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Scallops at sushi restaurants blamed in Hepatitis A outbreak

Hawaii health officials have identified imported scallops that were served raw at Genki Sushi restaurants as the probable cause of an ongoing Hepatitis A outbreak.

All of the restaurant locations on Oahu and Kauai have been closed at the order of the Hawaii State Department of Health, according to a statement issued Monday evening. Additional details are expected during a news conference at 3 p.m. EDT today.

Genki Sushi logoAt least 168 people, all adults, have been confirmed in the outbreak, which has been ongoing since June, according to the health department’s weekly update posted Aug. 10.

It was not immediately known what company distributed the raw, frozen, imported scallops. The Genki Sushi restaurant chain also has locations in California and Washington, according to its corporate website.

The outbreak has been concentrated on the island of Oahu where all but eight of the victims live. There are 10 Genki Sushi restaurants on Oahu and one on Kauai. Of the 168 outbreak victims who have been confirmed by laboratory tests, 46 have had symptoms so severe that they required hospitalization.

A week ago, the Hawaii Restaurant Association HRA and the Hawaii Medical Assurance Association HMAA announced a partnership to vaccinate all of the state’s restaurant employees.

Several restaurants on Oahu have reported that they have at least one employee who has tested positive for Hepatitis A, which can be transmitted via foods, beverages and direct personal contact.

For a list of those restaurants and possible exposure dates, visit the state health department’s outbreak update web page by clicking here. Also, an airline employee has been confirmed and may have exposed passengers. Details on the airline and flights that may have been exposed are on the chart with the restaurant exposure information.

People who have not been vaccinated for Hepatitis A and who have been exposed can receive a post-exposure vaccine. The post-exposure shot is most effective if taken within two weeks of exposure. A list of vaccinating pharmacies is also available on the health department outbreak page.

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