Multistate outbreak of hepatitis A virus infections linked to pomegranate seeds from Turkey (Final Update)
Posted September 15, 2014 12:00 PM ET
This particular outbreak appears to be over. However, Viral Hepatitis is still an important cause of human illness in the United States. More information about Viral Hepatitis, and steps people can take to reduce their risk of infection, can be found on the CDC Viral Hepatitis website.
Peer Reviewed Publication
At a Glance:
*The cases reported from Wisconsin resulted from exposure to the product in California, and the cases reported from New Hampshire reported fruit exposure during travel to Nevada.
Vaccine and IG Information:
Latest Case Count Map
Latest Epi Curve
This outbreak investigation has been finalized and the published report can be found in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases at http://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/issue/current
- 165 people were confirmed to have become ill from hepatitis A linked to pomegranate arils contained in ‘Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend’ in 10 states: Arizona (24), California (80), Colorado (29), Hawaii (8), New Hampshire (1), New Jersey (1), New Mexico (11), Nevada (6), Utah (3), and Wisconsin (2). [Note: The cases reported from Wisconsin resulted from exposure to the product in California, the cases reported from New Hampshire reported fruit exposure during travel to Nevada, and the case reported in New Jersey was a household contact of a confirmed case from Colorado.] Eight of the confirmed cases were household contacts of confirmed cases (secondary cases). One person was exposed to the same pomegranate arils in a different product, ‘Woodstock Frozen Organic Pomegranate Kernels.’
- 91 (55%) female ill persons
- Ages ranged from <1 – 84 years;
- 95 (58%) of those ill were between 40 – 64 years of age.
- 11 children age 18 or under were also ill. None were previously vaccinated.
- Illness onset dates ranged from 3/31/2013 – 8/12/2013
- 69 (42%) ill people were hospitalized, and no deaths were reported
- All ill people who reported eating this product purchased it from Costco markets; however, the product was also sold at Harris Teeter stores. No ill people were identified that bought the product at Harris Teeter.
- The major outbreak strain of hepatitis A virus, belonging to genotype 1B, was found in clinical specimens of 117 ill persons. This genotype is rarely seen in the Americas but circulates in North Africa and the Middle East.
- By combining information gained from FDA’s traceback and traceforward investigations and the CDC’s epidemiological investigation, FDA and CDC have determined that the most likely vehicle for the hepatitis A virus appears to be a common shipment of pomegranate seeds from a company in Turkey, Goknur Foodstuffs Import Export Trading.
- FDA has detained all shipments of pomegranate seeds from Goknur when they are offered for import into the United States.
- These pomegranate seeds were used by Townsend Farms to make the Townsend Farms and Harris Teeter Organic Antioxidant Blends and by Scenic Fruit Company to make the Woodstock Frozen Organic Pomegranate Kernels.
- On June 4, 2013, Townsend Farms, Inc. of Fairview, Oregon voluntarily recalled certain lots of its frozen Organic Antioxidant Blend because of potential hepatitis A virus contamination.
- On June 28, 2013, Townsend Farms, Inc. of Fairview, Oregon, expanded its voluntary limited lot recall of frozen Organic Antioxidant Blend, 3 lb. because of potential hepatitis A virus contamination.
- On June 26, 2013, Scenic Fruit Company of Gresham, Oregon recalled specific lots of Woodstock Frozen Organic Pomegranate Kernels because of potential hepatitis A virus contamination.
- Additional information regarding these recalls was updated regularly at: FDA Investigates Multistate Outbreak of Hepatitis A Illnesses Associated with Pomegranate seeds from Turkish Importer.
- Consumers should not eat recalled products containing pomegranate seeds. The recalled products should be discarded.