February 19, 2018

Possible Hepatitis A Exposure in Food Worker in Honolulu, Hawaii

A possible case of hepatitis A has been diagnosed in a food worker at the Way Kung Restaurant on Mapunapuna Street in Honolulu, Hawaii. That person worked there between December 1, 2017 and January 6, 2018.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a very contagious virus. People can contract this illness by person-to-person contact, through food and drink that has been contaminated by feces, and through contact with surfaces. People who are infected with this virus are symptom-free for two weeks, so can easily pass it on to others before they even know they are sick.

Unfortunately, a hepatitis A or immune globulin vaccination is only effective if given within two weeks of exposure. That means that anyone who visited that restaurant after January 4, 2018 is not longer eligible for a shot. Today is the last day anyone who was at the restaurant on January 5 to get a vaccination, and tomorrow, Saturday January 20, is the last day for a shot for anyone who was there on January 6. If you are not eligible for a vaccination, all you can do is watch yourself for the symptoms of this illness.

Sarah Park, state epidemiologist told Hawaii News Now, “Because of the limited two-week window to prevent infection among those potentially exposed, we are alerting the public as a precaution. We encourage people to take appropriate action to protect their health and prevent possible new cases in our community.”

In 2016, a large hepatitis A outbreak on the island sickened at least 292 people. Seventy-four of those people had to be hospitalized because their illness was so serious. That outbreak was eventually linked to raw scallops that were imported from the Philippines. Sea Port Bay Scallops were served raw at Genki Sushi restaurants on Oahu and Kauai.

The symptoms of hepatitis A include yellow skin and eyes (jaundice), fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, dark urine, clay-colored stools, abdominal pain, nausea, and diarrhea. Officials have issued a medical advisory to doctors throughout the state telling them to be on the lookout for more cases.

To prevent the spread of this illness, it’s important that everyone wash their hands well with soap and water after using the bathroom, after taking care of someone who is sick, after changing diapers, and before preparing food. Stay home from work or school if you are sick, especially with a diarrheal illness. And if you work with the public, consider being vaccinated against this virus.

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