DOH confirms two hepatitis-A cases on Oahu, one case on Kauai, two more being investigated

Published On: Jun 03 2013 06:35:00 PM HST

A hepatitis-A outbreak has been linked to Townsend Farms Organic Anti-Oxidant Blend sold at Costco stores nationwide from late February through the end of May.

"We're looking at a long time when the product was out there," said Dr. Sarah Park, Hawaii Department of Health Infectious Disease specialist.

That's just one of the problems for Park, who's trying to get a hold of the scope of a hepatitis outbreak here, with three cases in Hawaii confirmed, two more on their radar, and phone lines ringing off the hook.

"It's difficult because who shops at Costco? It's not just the average person. What mom and pop store was buying their product and using it to make smoothies in their store? We don't know," she said.

"I bought the product, and I think it's still in my fridge right now," said Costco customer Violet Curtis.

Despite an expanding investigation, the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control are still calling it an alert not a recall, though Costco decided to go the extra mile anyway.

"These kinds of things happen. I think Costco took the right measures," said one Iwilei customer.

"I'm confident they have it under control," said another.

It's still unclear if the entire supply was tainted, but on Wednesday and Thursday, Costco pulled all of the frozen berry blend off its store shelves and started calling customers to warn them of the alert.

"I didn't get a notice or anything, so I'm glad you found me," said Curtis.

"It's alarming actually. Your urine turns dark, your eyes turn yellow and the whites of your eyes turn yellow. If you have a package that's contaminated and you eat it, you will get infected. The question is how severe are your symptoms going to be?" asked Park.

Park said some people who ate the product may not have symptoms at all, while others could be facing months of illness.

"That's scary. I'm going to go and throw it away now," said Curtis.

Park said if you think you ate the product within the past two weeks, you should get vaccinated, but beyond that, the vaccination may not work.

Either way, she said you should consult with your doctor if you have any concerns.

An important note: it cannot be spread through coughing or sneezing, but through fecal matter, so remember to wash your hands.

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