The World Forum - April 22nd, 2024

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Strawberries may be linked to hepatitis outbreak in US and Canada


US and Canadian food regulators are investigating a hepatitis A outbreak that could be linked to fresh organic strawberries.

The fruits were sold under the brand names FreshKampo and H-E-B.

The produce was available at various retailers across the US, including Aldi, Kroger, Safeway, Walmart and Trader Joe's, between 5 March and 25 April.

In the US, 17 people have become ill - 15 in California and one each in Minnesota and North Dakota, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Twelve of those who became ill were hospitalised.

In Canada, the strawberries were sold in Alberta and Saskatchewan between 5 March and 9 March.

Ten cases and four hospitalisations have been reported in both provinces, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Berries are a common conduit for viruses because they are so delicate that they can only be harvested by hand, according to the Live Science news outlet.

The virus is usually transmitted through the faecal-oral route, meaning that a person somehow ingests contaminated faces from an infected person.

If workers have not properly washed their hands after using the bathroom, they could transfer the virus to the fruit.

This is more of a risk in parts of the world where hepatitis A is more common.