ST. GEORGE — Federal and Clark County health officials are warning people not to drink water from the Las Vegas-based bottled water brand Real Water after linking it to multiple cases of acute nonviral hepatitis in Nevada.
In a press release issued Tuesday, the Southern Nevada Health District stated that it received initial reports of five cases of acute nonviral hepatitis in children in November 2020. The cause of their illness was unknown. All five children, who lived in four different households, required hospitalization but have since recovered. Six additional people – three adults and three children – also reported experiencing less severe symptoms that included vomiting, nausea, loss of appetite and fatigue.
According to the health district, the consumption of Real Water products is the only common link identified between all the cases to date. The district continues to monitor for additional cases of acute nonviral hepatitis, and the Food and Drug Administration is conducting a further investigation into the Real Water facility.
St. George Water Store, a locally owned and operated water company, distributes Real Water branded products to customers throughout St. George, Cedar City and Mesquite, Nevada areas. The company purchased the local Real Water distributor about a year and a half ago and took over bottling operations.
“St. George Water Store utilizes entirely separate bottling facilities located in Hildale, Utah to produce Real Water,” owner Jocco Roberts said in a statement sent to their customers Wednesday. “As a precaution, St. George Water Store has temporarily ceased all bottling of Real Water until the problem has been resolved by the FDA.”
Alma Jessop, a partner at St. George Water Store, told St. George News that all of their three- and five-gallon bottles of Real Water are bottled locally using Real Water’s proprietary formula. The company also distributes cases of liter and half-liter bottles shipped from the Real Water production facility in Phoenix, Arizona.
“All of our bottles for our home and office delivery service, we bottle ourselves,” Jessop said. “With Real Water, we do get their concentrate, and we do add that our water when we bottle it, but we control the facilities, the people bottling it and all of that. It’s all done by us.”
Jessop said that until further notice, all water deliveries from St. George Water Store will instead contain their Zion’s Alkaline Spring Water product, which originates from springs in southwest Utah’s Canaan Mountain Wilderness, and prices per bottle for current Real Water customers will be lowered. The company will continue to use Real Water labeled bottles.
The FDA has recommended that consumers, restaurants and retailers discontinue drinking, cooking with, selling or serving Real Water alkaline water products, the health district said.
Real Water comes in boxy blue plastic bottles and is marketed as being rich with minerals, “alkalized” and “infused with negative ions.”
The Real Water brand is owned by Nevada-based AffinityLifestyles.com, Inc. In a report by the Associated Press on Wednesday, company president Brent Jones called for stores to stop selling the product “throughout the United States until the issue is resolved.”
“Our goal is to diligently work with the FDA to achieve a swift resolution,” a statement from Jones said.
Jones did not address a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Nevada state court on behalf of a father, mother and their young son who say they became sick from the water.
Will Kemp, the attorney who filed the lawsuit, said it is sold throughout the Southwest — including Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and the Los Angeles area — at stores including Sprouts, Whole Foods and Costco and through delivery by local distributors.
Acute non-viral hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that can result from exposure to toxins, autoimmune disease or drinking too much alcohol. Symptoms commonly include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, light-colored stools, joint pain and yellow skin or eyes. The district advised anyone who is experiencing these symptoms to contact their health care provider.
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