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Hepatitis A Cases Linked to Virginia Tropical Smoothie Cafes

Tropical Smoothie Cafe Reston/Credit: Google mapsRecent cases of Hepatitis A may have started with strawberries used in smoothies at Tropical Smoothie Cafe locations in Virginia, state health department officials warn.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe has 96 Virginia stores, including one at Plaza America in Reston.

The Virginia Department of Health said testing indicates that frozen strawberries that originated in Egypt may be to blame for the illnesses. Four of the 10 cases in the commonwealth have occurred in Northern Virginia, the health department said.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe said it has stopped using those strawberries at all stores.

Tropical Smoothie said this in a statement:

Tropical Smoothie Cafe was notified by the Virginia Department of Health about several foodborne illnesses in the state linked to frozen strawberries sourced from Egypt.

Our cafes and their food handling practices have not been implicated in any way — the health department believes this is a single product issue (strawberries) sourced from Egypt. Egyptian strawberries represent a fraction of our overall strawberries purchased, and were predominantly distributed to stores in the Virginia market.

Today, our strawberries are primarily sourced from Mexico and California.

However, in an abundance of caution, we voluntarily pulled all strawberries sourced from Egypt from every cafe in our system, not only the Virginia cafes. Our primary concern is for the safety and well-being of our guests and crew members and we will continue to cooperate with the health authorities.”

Virginia health officials are encouraging anyone who consumed a smoothie with frozen strawberries at a restaurant in the last 50 days to watch for symptoms of Hepatitis A: jaundice, fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine and light-colored stools.

Additionally, customers who consumed a smoothie from a Tropical Smoothie Cafe in Virginia that contained frozen strawberries between  Aug. 5 – 8 may still benefit from vaccine or immune globulin to prevent hepatitis A, the health department said.

A vaccine or immune globulin given within two weeks of exposure to hepatitis A virus is effective at preventing the disease, health official said.

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Visitors To Reston-Area Locations May Have Been Exposed to Measles

VA Dept of Health/Credit: VA Dept of Health Virginia Department of Health officials say a person with measles may have visited several spots in the Reston and Herndon area last week, possibly exposing people to the illness.

The discovery of the person with measles came after health officials in Loudoun and Fairfax Counties confirmed last month that an infected person may have been contagious while visiting several area locations in the Chantilly and South Riding area between April 23 and May 1.

The second case has been confirmed in a person in close contact with the first case.

The latest exposures occurred between May 11 and May 15 at many locations from Fairfax County to Montgomery County, Md. Health officials said people who have received at least one dose of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine are at very low risk of being infected with measles from any of these exposures.

Among the Reston-area locations:

  • Starbucks, 2407 Centreville Rd., Herndon. Monday, May 12 between 7:10 and 10:20 a.m.
  • Nysmith School for the Gifted, 13625 Eds Dr., Herndon. Tuesday, May 13 between 1:30 and 5:30 p.m, and same hours on Wednesday, May 14.
  • Life Time Athletic, 1757 Business Center Dr., Reston. Wednesday, May 14 between 8:20 a.m and 12:45 p.m.

For additional locations in surrounding areas, see the Virginia Department of Health website.

Measles is a highly contagious illness that is spread through coughing, sneezing, and contact with secretions from the nose, mouth, and throat of an infected individual, say Virginia Department of Health officials.

Measles symptoms usually appear in two stages. In the first stage, most people have a fever of greater than 101 degrees, runny nose, watery red eyes and a cough. The second stage begins around the third to seventh day when a rash begins to appear on the face and spreads over the entire body. Based on these dates of exposure, anyone infected with the measles virus may develop symptoms as late as June 5.

For people who are not vaccinated and who may have been exposed, the VDH offers this advice.

  • Preventive treatment may be available for those who were at the exposure sites on May 15 only. The preventive treatment is particularly important for high risk individuals (e.g., pregnant women, infants under the age of one, and immunosuppressed people). However, this preventive treatment must be administered today, May 21, to be effective. Please call 1-877-275-8343 as soon as possible to be assessed for exposure risk.
  • If you have never received MMR vaccine, you may be at risk of measles. Monitor your health and if you notice symptoms of measles (see below), immediately isolate yourself in your home to limit your exposure to others and call your primary health care provider to discuss further care.
  • Call ahead before going to the doctor’s office or the emergency room and tell them that you were exposed to measles.
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