Woman claims frozen berries gave her Hepatitis A - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Woman claims frozen berries gave her Hepatitis A

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ANTHEM, Ariz. -

A valley woman is suing after she says she got Hepatitis A from eating Townsend Farms frozen berries she bought at Costco.

The lawsuit was filed against berry maker Townsend Farms on Thursday.

The woman, who lives in Anthem, can't remember which Costco she bought the berries at.

She's worked at the same place for 10 years and says she's never called in sick.

Now she's at risk of losing her job and her degree as her medical bills are mounting.

"I mean if I don't have a job, I don't have a degree, what do I have? Hepatitis A," said Karen Echard.

Echard says she got Hepatitis A from eating Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend Frozen Berry and Pomegranate Mix she bought at Costco in April.

"I do protein drinks every morning for breakfast. It's actually one of my favorite ones, using those berries," said Echard.

A couple weeks later she had a fever, chills and terrible stomach pain.

"I was yellow, like a crayon, and when I saw myself i was like, 'Okay, something's wrong with my liver, I have to get to the emergency room'," said Echard.

Echard was diagnosed with Hepatitis A and hospitalized for six days.

Her doctor couldn't figure out how she got the virus.

"'Have you been to any foreign countries, have you had any shell fish?' He asked me multiple questions and it was all 'no'," said Echard. "He hadn't heard about the outbreak until that night when it was broadcast on the news that there's a Hep A outbreak related to the berries. It's like, those are the berries I just got done with."

Four weeks later, Echard is still recovering.

The whites of her eyes are still yellow from the jaundice Hepatitis A causes and she's exhausted.

"It's almost like, debilitating," said Echard.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 79 people in eight states have Hepatitis A infections potentially associated with the frozen berry mix; 30 were hospitalized.

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that can last a few weeks to several months.

"They said it's anywhere from six weeks to six months for recovery with as bad a case as I have," said Echard.

Echard works full time as ahealthr and goes to school, but is at risk of not graduating now.

Her medical bills are nearing $100,000.

She has no insurance.

The small business she works for is uncertain how much longer they can hold her job.

Echard's lawsuit is seeking an unspecified amount of damages from Townsend Farms.

"When I think of the future, I think well, what future do I have?" said Echard.

The CDC says Costco removed the item from its shelves.

Townsend Farms voluntarily recalled the item.

On their website it says they learned the pomegranate seeds processed in turkey may be linked to an illness outbreak outside the United States.

Townsend Farms: www.townsendfarms.com

CDC Website: www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/Outbreaks/2013/A1b-03-31/index.html

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