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Evo's patrons are warned of possible hepatitis exposure

Berries used in smoothie were a potential source of exposure, officials say
 Posted: 2:00 AM June 18, 2013

An Ashland coffee shop sold smoothies made from berries that were possibly tainted by hepatitis A, leading county health officials to recommend that customers look into getting a vaccine.

Evo's Coffee Lounge customers who drank a "Radically Free" smoothie between May 17 and June 12 may have been exposed to hepatitis A, Jackson County Health Department officials reported Monday.

Those who consumed the drink should check their vaccination status or contact their health care provider. Those who have not been vaccinated must be given the vaccine within 14 days of exposure to be protected.

"If it's been beyond 14 days, then they did miss that window," said Jackson Baures, division manager for Jackson County Environmental Public Health. "They should still talk with their health care provider. It's just a good practice as a whole."

The hepatitis A vaccine is available at the Jackson County Health Department, 1005 E. Main St. The department is open from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. weekdays.

"It's something we've always provided. We're just trying to make sure people are aware of that," Baures said.

Vaccinations also may be available at area pharmacies.

Department officials said the drink at Evo's may have contained the Organic Antioxidant Blend frozen berry mix, produced by Farmview, Ore.-based Townsend Farms and sold at numerous Costco warehouses in several Western states. The frozen fruit mix has since been recalled by the company and is off store shelves.

"We don't know if these particular berries did have hepatitis (A)," Baures said. "We know they were part of the recalled batch. We want to be cautious."

No other items at Evo's contained the Organic Antioxidant Blend, Baures added.

"Townsend Farms is implementing this voluntary recall after learning that one of the ingredients of the frozen Organic Antioxidant Blend, pomegranate seeds processed in Turkey, may be linked to an illness outbreak outside of the United States," said a news release from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The release said hepatitis A is a liver disease that generally presents symptoms 28 days after exposure. Symptoms can present anywhere between 15 and 50 days after exposure, however. They include fatigue, adbominal pain, jaundice, abnormal liver tests, dark urine and pale stool. In some cases, liver failure can present in people who have a pre-existing severe illness or have compromised immune systems.

Dr. Ann Thomas, Oregon Public Health Division physician with the Emerging Infections Program, said Monday that 106 cases had been reported in the U.S., and 50 percent of the people were hospitalized.

"It kind of gives you an idea of how serious it can be," Thomas said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last week that more than 80 percent of those hospitalized for the disease reported eating the berry blend.

She added that while the disease is serious, it always resolves, unlike the more serious B and C forms of hepatitis.

"There's no chronic form of (hepatitis A)," Thomas said.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or

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