December 2, 2016

Hawaii Hepatitis A Outbreak Grows Again; Online Survey Launched

The Health Department of the state of Hawaii is launching an online survey to help it solve the mystery of the hepatitis A outbreak plaguing residents. As of August 10, 2016, 168 people are sick with the viral illness. Since the last update, 33 new cases have been identified. Forty eight people have been hospitalize because their illnesses are so serious.

Hepatitis AAll of those sickened are adults; 46 of them have required hospitalization. The source of the outbreak is believed to be focused on Oahu. The onset of illness dates range from 6/12/16 to 8/1/16.

Hawaii residents are urged to take an online survey to help solve the outbreak. The survey will determine how frequently residents eat at restaurants and obtain food from grocery stores in the state. The survey will take less than five minutes. Survey responses should be limited to one survey per household/family.

Dr. Sarah Park, the state epidemiologist said, “there’s no reference that we can look to to say that on Oahu this percentage of people go to this restaurant, this percentage goes to that restaurant, this percentage goes to this grocery store.” Given the long time frame, almost two months, of the outbreak illness onset dates, officials believe that the product responsible could have a long shelf life. The product may be frozen or non-perishable, and probably imported to the island.

Most of those sickened have had symptoms of fatigue, loss of appetite, and dark urine. Those are typical symptoms of those with hepatitis A, but other symptoms that are not appearing include jaundice, clay colored stools, fever, muscle pain, diarrhea, and weight loss.

Most people recover on their own after this type of infection, but they could be ill for months. Some, especially those with liver disease and people over the age of 60, could suffer liver failure.

Anyone who hasn’t been exposed to the virus should think about getting a vaccination against the virus. Regular hand washing can also help prevent the spread of the disease. Those who are sick should stay home and never prepare or serve food to others because the virus is so contagious.

 

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