October 21, 2016

Hepatitis A Outbreak on Oahu Grows, 31 Sick

Hepatitis-A-virus-under-microscopeA Hepatitis A outbreak on Oahu has grown to include 31 people, according to the Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH). The source of the outbreak has not yet been identified.

Officials from the Hawaii Department of Health have been interviewing those sickened to establish food histories.  “Identifying the source of infection is a challenge,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park in a statement. “Hepatitis A has a long incubation period lasting anywhere from two weeks to as long as 50 days. Accurately recalling all of the foods consumed and locations visited during the period when infection could have taken place is challenging for many, especially those who are still feeling ill.”

Hepatitis A is a virus that can be prevented with a vaccine. It is usually transmitted through contact with an infected person’s stool.  Symptoms of an infection include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, diarrhea, and yellow skin and eyes. These symptoms last between three to eight weeks. Sometimes people who are infected show no symptoms. People are most contagious during the period beginning one week before the symptoms start until one week after the start of the first symptoms.

If administered within two weeks of exposure, the Hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin can provide protection against the disease. People who are not vaccinated and have recently exposed should talk to their doctors.

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