Recently, the Kent County Health Department was alerted by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services regarding an ongoing recall of frozen strawberries sold to certain commercial food service establishments. These strawberries are believed to be connected to a Hepatitis A outbreak nationwide. Because these strawberries may have been consumed over the past few months, there are two very important concerns for Health Department staff: the risk of people becoming ill with Hepatitis A, and vaccinating those who may have been exposed before they become ill. Treatment is available for those exposed in the past 14 days. In Kent County, two facilities have served strawberries from the suspected lots in the last two weeks: Romano’s Macaroni Grill, 5525 28th Street, Grand Rapids, MI 49512 (near I-96) and HCR ManorCare Grand Rapids, 2320 E Beltline SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546
“If you have eaten an item containing strawberries at Macaroni Grill or HRC ManorCare on the Beltline in the last 14 days, you should receive either the Hepatitis A vaccination as soon as possible to try to prevent the illness,” said Adam London, Kent County Health Department Administrative Health Officer. “The immunization is only effective up to 14 days after exposure, so it is important to contact your health care provider while you are in the 14 day window. If it has been longer than 14 days, you should be aware of the symptoms of Hepatitis A and if you become ill, contact your health care provider.”
Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection that can be spread by eating contaminated food. “If someone has the virus, it is possible for them to transmit the illness to others, especially through food preparation,” London added. “As with many viral illnesses, personal hygiene and good handwashing can help prevent the illness from spreading.” Symptoms include:
. Jaundice (a yellowing of the skin or eyes)
. Dark urine
. Loss of appetite
. Abdominal pain
. Clay-colored bowel movements
The Health Department urges individuals who need vaccination to do so as soon as possible. This chart explains the timeline for those who may have been exposed to receive vaccination:
If you ate strawberries at Macaroni Grill October 21-26, the window to get the vaccination has closed. If you ate them Thursday, October 27, then Thursday, November 10 is the last day you can receive the vaccination; and if you ate them on Friday, October 28, then Friday, November 11 is the last day you can receive the vaccination.
If you ate strawberries at HCR on October 24, the window to get the vaccination is closed. They did not serve them the other dates.
In case you have been traveling within Michigan, there is a complete list of restaurants statewide that may have served the recalled frozen strawberries in recent weeks at www.michigan.gov/documents/mdard/Hep_A_List_of_Known_and_Possible_Locations_11042016_1310_540528_7.pdf.