December 4, 2016

Hawaii Harbor Restaurant Worker Has Hepatitis A

According to the Hawaii State Department of Health, a food worker at Harbor Restaurant on Pier 38 at 1133 North Nimitz Highway in Honolulu, Oahu has been diagnosed with hepatitis A. That person worked at the restaurant from August 26 through September 12, 2016.

Hepatitis A virus

There is a hepatitis A outbreak in Hawaii that has sickened at least 271 people, but public health officials stress that the Harbor Restaurant is not the source of the outbreak, and no illnesses have been linked to that facility. Still, anyone who ate there on the dates in question may have been exposed to hepatitis A, since the virus is very contagious and easily spread through food and drink.

That hepatitis A outbreak has been linked to frozen scallops imported from the Philippines, that were served raw at Genki Sushi restaurants on Oahu and Kauai. Those restaurants were closed in mid-August when officials at the Health Department found the virus in the scallops. Genki Sushi Restaurants were just cleared to reopen last week.

If you ate there after September 1, 2016, you can still get a hepatitis A or immune globulin vaccination against this illness. Those vaccinations are only good for two weeks after exposure. The Hawaii State Department of Health has posted a list of pharmacies that will administer these vaccinations. If you ate there before September 1, 2016, all you can do is watch yourself for the symptoms of hepatitis A and see your doctor if they appear.

Five other restaurants on Oahu have had workers diagnosed with this illness in July and August, 2016. In addition, two flight attendants for Hawaiian Airlines worked several flights before they were diagnosed with hepatitis A.

The symptoms of hepatitis A include jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin), fatigue and lethargy, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, nausea, loss of appetite, weight  loss, clay-colored stools, and dark urine. Most people get sick within two weeks to a month after exposure to the virus, but some people don’t start feeling ill for 50 days. And some people never develop symptoms at all, but can be contagious.

To prevent the spread of this illness, stay home from work or school if you are sick, especially if you work in the food industry, for a school or daycare, or in the healthcare industry. Always wash your hands well with soap and water after using the bathroom, since the virus is passed through the fecal-oral route. And wash your hands with soap and water before preparing food for or serving food to others.

 

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