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Requests For Hepatitis A Vaccine Skyrocket After Outbreak

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

ARVADA (CBS4/AP) – Colorado health officials say the state is home to 12 of the 49 hepatitis A illnesses that have been reported in seven states since late April.

The Colorado Department of Health And Environment said Tuesday the Colorado cases were reported in Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Clear Creek, Douglas, Eagle, El Paso and Jefferson counties.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says hepatitis A illnesses also have been reported in New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, California, Hawaii and Utah.

The illnesses have been linked to a frozen berry mix sold by Townsend Farms of Fairview, Ore. The Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday that Townsend Farms is recalling its frozen Organic Antioxidant Blend, packaged under the Townsend Farms label at Costco and under the Harris Teeter brand at those stores.

California resident Lynda Brackenridge is still in isolation in the Long Beach Hospital where she’s recovering. Brackenridge contracted hepatitis A after eating the contaminated berry mix. She thought she had the flu.

“I was just so, so tired and nauseous and I hadn’t been able to eat, so I decided I had to make an appointment with the doctor,” Brackenridge said.

Brackenridge is suing the Oregon farm where the berries came from. She’s been recovering for two weeks.

“I haven’t left bed or gone to work or done anything since the (May 22); just been in bed,” she said.

“The symptoms associated with hepatitis A can be nausea, fatigue, malaise, feeling not well,” Dr. Judith Shlay said.

Shlay is the associate director at Denver Public Health. She says over the last two weeks the number of patients looking specifically for the hepatitis A vaccine has skyrocketed.

“After the exposure, if we give the vaccine in a time period within two weeks, then they can avoid the illness,” Shlay said.

The Colorado Department of Health And Environment is investigating the hepatitis A outbreak. In Avon the county health department has set up a hepatitis vaccine clinic.

The state health department advises all Colorado residents who’ve been exposed to the contaminated food to consider the vaccine.

Health officials say the risk of contracting hepatitis A from the frozen food mix is relatively low.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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