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Stanley Lemon, MD
Stanley Lemon, MD

The Food and Drug Administration said in a statement May 28 that at least 17 people in the U.S. had been infected with hepatitis A, likely because of the strawberries. Twelve of those people were hospitalized.

Dr. Stanley M. Lemon, MD, a professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases, weighed in on the rarity of hepatitis outbreaks with The Wall Street Journal.

“It’s not an everyday occurrence,” he said, “but it’s certainly not unusual for this to happen.”

From 2009 to 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified 37 hepatitis outbreaks that sickened 911 people and killed six. Since 2013, notable outbreaks have been connected to pomegranate seeds imported from Turkeyraw scallops in Hawaiifrozen strawberries imported from Egypt and fresh blackberries mainly in the Midwest.

While hepatitis A can spread among people, it is unlikely that the strawberries would cause a huge outbreak unless a food handler was infected, Dr. Lemon said.

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