The number of new cases of Hepatitis A being reported in Hawaii appears to be slowing, with only five additional patients being confirmed in the past week.
However, foodservice workers at restaurants and an elementary school cafeteria have been confirmed as among the 276 victims, spurring public health and school officials to urge the public and parents to watch for symptoms of the infection. It can take two weeks to two months for symptoms to develop following exposure.
Of the 276 sick people confirmed as part of the outbreak, 68 have had symptoms so severe that they required hospitalization, according to the Hawaii State Department of Health.
“We expect to continue seeing new cases of Hepatitis A infection through at least early October because of the long incubation period for this illness, even though the source of the outbreak has been identified as contaminated scallops,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park said in a recent news release.
The implicated scallops — frozen and packed in the Philippines in November 2015 — were served raw by Genki Sushi restaurants on Oahu and Kauai. Illnesses began in June, or earlier, with the most recent victim logged by the state having become ill on Sept. 15.
Foodservice workers added to victim list
State and local education officials have confirmed that a cafeteria worker at Reverend Benjamin Parker Elementary School has been confirmed with Hepatitis A. The employee worked at the school from Aug. 28 through 30.
A letter to parents from the principal of the school stated meals will be prepared off-site for the time being.
The letter noted that all students should have received Hepatitis A vaccines as part of routinely recommended childhood vaccinations and should therefore not be at risk of infection.
In the past week, state officials said that foodservice workers at the following restaurants have been confirmed as part of the outbreak:
- Ohana Seafood, the seafood vendor in the Sam’s Club warehouse store at 1000 Kamehameha Hwy., Pearl City. Food handled by the employee may have been sold from Aug. 29 through Sept. 11;
- Harbor Restaurant at Pier 38, at 1133 N. Nimitz Hwy., Honolulu. Food handled by the employee may have been sold from Aug. 26 through Sept. 12, and
- Chart House Restaurant, at 1765 Ala Moana Blvd. in Honolulu. Food handled by the employee may have been sold from Sept. 1 through 4 and 8 through 11.
A complete list of foodservice establishments which have had employees diagnosed with Hepatitis infection within the past 50 days is available on the state health department’s website.
For additional details on the outbreak, please see:
- Hepatitis A outbreak tops 200; state seeks help from public
- New Hepatitis A cases likely in Hawaii despite scallop embargo
- Scallops at sushi restaurants blamed in Hepatitis A outbreak
- Letter From the Editor: Sometimes you get what you need
(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)© Food Safety News