October 25, 2016

Another Hawaiian Airlines Flight Attendant Has Hepatitis A

Another Hawaiian Airlines flight attendant has tested positive for hepatitis A, according to the Hawaii State Department of Health. Anyone who traveled on the flights where that person worked may have been exposed to the virus.

Hepatitis A virus

The flight attendant served food and beverages to passengers on these flights: Flight HA22 from Honolulu, Hawaii to Seattle, Washington on July 31, 2016; Flight HA21 from Seattle, Washington to Honolulu, Hawaii on August 1, 2016; Flight HA18 from Honolulu, Hawaii to Las Vegas, Nevada on August 10, 2016; and Flight HA17 from Las Vegas, Nevada to Honolulu, Hawaii on August 12, 2016.

If you were on the August 10 or August 12 flights you can still get a vaccination against the hepatitis A virus. Vaccinations are only effective if given within two weeks of exposure. If you were on the earlier flights, all you can do is monitor yourself for the symptoms of the illness and see your doctor if you do develop them. You can see a list of pharmacies that provide the shots at the Hawaii state website.

Public health officials stress that the risk of transmission is very low, and that Hawaiian Airlines is not the source of the hepatitis A outbreak. Imported frozen scallops have been identified as the likely source of the virus. Testing by the FDA confirmed the presence of hepatitis A in the scallops.

Hawaiian Airlines is offering reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses if you were on one of these flights. Contact the airline for questions.

The outbreak investigation will be updated today, and there will be more cases. Symptoms of hepatitis A can appear up to 50 days after exposure to the virus.

As of August 17, 2016, 206 people are sick in this outbreak. Fifty-one people have been hospitalized because their illnesses are so severe.

Anyone who contracts this illness can be contagious up to two weeks before symptoms appear. That is one reason why it is so hard to stop the spread of this virus.

The symptoms of hepatitis A include jaundice, lethargy, clay-colored stools, dark urine, weight loss, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and muscle aches. Symptoms usually begin two weeks after exposure.

Most people recover on their own after this infection, although symptoms may last for a long time. People with liver disease and the elderly may suffer complications, including liver failure.


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