The imported scallops at the center of the Hawaii hepatitis A outbreak that were served raw at Genki Sushi restaurants were imported from the Philippines. Hawaii Department of Health officials have named the brand as Sea Port Bay Scallops. The scallops are wild harvested in the Philippine Bay, frozen, and distributed.
Yesterday, the DOH stated they are conducting a case control study to determine what food items served at a “local restaurant” have led to the outbreak. A survey has been posted for anyone who ate at Genki Sushi restaurants on the islands after April 23, 2016 and have not been sick with hepatitis A. Officials will select some survey participants for phone interviews.
This outbreak has sickened at least 168 people; 46 of them have been hospitalized because their illness is so serious. Reports of illness have been coming in since July 1, 2016 and officials warn that more people could become ill.
The incubation period for hepatitis A is two weeks to 50 days. During that time, persons who have the virus will not show any symptoms, but they are contagious, which is why the disease is so easily spread. If you ate at Genki Sushi restaurants in the past 50 days, contact your physician for advice. Ten of those restaurants on Oahu and one on Kauai have been closed for cleaning.
If you ate there within the last two weeks, you can get a vaccination to protect you against the disease. But if you ate there before Augusts 3, 2016, it’s too late for a shot and all you can do is monitor yourself for symptoms of the illness.
Public health officials are using this outbreak to warn consumers about the risks of consuming raw food. Raw foods such as seafood, meats, sprouts, milk, nuts, and juices can harbor pathogenic bacteria and viruses and present a health risk. Healthy people can get sick if they eat these types of foods that are contaminated, but some people can become seriously ill.
Anyone who is in a high risk group should not consume raw foods. That includes the very young, the elderly, pregnant women, those with compromised immune systems, and anyone with a chronic illness.
The symptoms of hepatitis A include fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, dark urine, abdominal cramps, clay-colored stools, headache, body aches, and jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin). Recovery from this illness can take months.
To help prevent the spread of hepatitis A and other foodborne illnesses, wash your hands thoroughly after using the bathroom and before preparing food for others. Stay home if you are sick. And consider getting a vaccination for hepatitis A, especially if you work in the food service industry the health care industry, or with the public.