BALTIMORE (WJZ)—The connection between Egyptian strawberries used in smoothies and hepatitis A infections has surface in Maryland.
Smoothies made from frozen Egyptian strawberries and sold by the Tropical Smoothie Cafe chain have been linked to hepatitis A infections.
Seven cases have surfaced in Maryland, after first being reported in West Virginia and Virginia, where more than 60 people have been made ill, including E.J. Bowman.
“The healthy smart choice in my smoothie it got me in my hospital bed–the irony,” said Bowman.
Last month the company posted signs saying it had switched to strawberries from Mexico and California.
“The source was the strawberries which was available at many different shops. We don’t really know which shop might have been the root source for any one of the cases,” said Dr. Howard Haft, deputy health secretary for the State Health Department.
There are a number of Tropical Smoothie Cafes scattered across Maryland, all of which stopped using Egyptian strawberries weeks ago.
In a statement, the company stressed “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.”
It can take up to 50 days for symptoms to materialize.
“That’s when my abdominals were kinda like bloated and I was like, ‘Oh my goodness I don’t even want to drink water, I cant keep anything down,” said Bowman.
“The good news about this hepititus A is that it’s typically not fatal, its uncomfortable, sometimes requires hospitalization for supportive care, but it’s usually self limiting and goes away by itself,” said Haft.
Hepatitis A is caused by fecal contamination and the virus is hardy enough to survive after being frozen.