Surveillance and outbreak reports Open Access
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Non-travel-related hepatitis A is rare in Canada. We describe a hepatitis A outbreak investigation in British Columbia in February to May 2012 in which exposure history was collected from nine confirmed non-travel-related cases. Suspected foods were tested for hepatitis A virus (HAV): a frozen fruit blend was identified as a common exposure for six of the nine cases using supermarket loyalty cards. Consumption of the product was confirmed in each case. Genetic analysis confirmed HAV genotype 1B in the six exposed cases. Of the three non-exposed cases, the virus could not be genotyped for two of them; the virus from the other case was found to be genotype 1A and this case was therefore not considered part of the outbreak. HAV was detected by PCR from pomegranate seeds, a component of the identified frozen fruit blend. Historically low levels of HAV infection in British Columbia triggered early recognition of the outbreak. Loyalty card histories facilitated product identification and a trace-back investigation implicated imported pomegranate seeds.


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