The Hawaii State Department of Health has cleared Genki Sushi restaurants to open after a hepatitis A outbreak linked to frozen imported raw scallops sickened more than 250 people. The press release, issued on September 9, 2016, states that the establishments “completed extensive sanitizing of their facilities, disposal of potentially affected items, and medical screening of employees for Hepatitis A.”
Dr. Virginia Pressler, Health Director of the Hawaii State Department of Health said in a statement, “The management team of Genki Sushi restaurants on Oahu and Kauai has given us their full cooperation, and the department is confident that they are in compliance with all health regulations. Genki Sushi has been cleared by the Department of Health to reopen to the public.”
The restaurants were ordered closed on August 16, 2016 after health officials found a link between frozen scallops imported from the Philippines that were served raw at those locations and the hepatitis A outbreak that had been plaguing the state for weeks. The business complied with the order immediately.
The frozen scallops were Sea Port Bay Scallops (Wild Harvest, Raw Frozen) that originated in the Philippines. The scallops were imported and distributed by Koha Oriental Foods. The product was embargoed throughout the state after the hepatitis A virus was found in the seafood. Scallops that were served at Genki Sushi locations on Maui and the Big Island came from a different supplier and weren’t associated with the outbreak.
Food service workers at five restaurants on Oahu and two flight attendants for Hawaiian Airlines were diagnosed with hepatitis A in July and August, 2016. No illnesses were associated with those establishments, and they are not linked to the outbreak. But anyone who visited those restaurants on the dates the ill employee worked is at risk for developing hepatitis A.
The last dates an ill person worked at those facilities was August 26, 2016. Since it can take up to 50 days for symptoms of hepatitis A to appear after exposure, it’s possible that someone will become sick as a result of that exposure.
The symptoms of hepatitis A include jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin), fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, fever, muscle aches, dark urine, and clay-colored stools. If you have been experiencing these symptoms, see your doctor and stay home from work or school.
To prevent the spread of this illness, always wash your hands well with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after going to the bathroom, changing diapers, or taking care of someone who is sick. If you work in the healthcare industry, in a school, or in the food service industry, you may want to consider getting a hepatitis A or immune globulin vaccination to protect yourself against this virus.