The Hawaii State Department of Health has given the green light to Genki Sushi restaurants on Oahu and Kauai to reopen after they completed extensive sanitizing, disposed of potentially contaminated food items, and screened their employees for Hepatitis A. The restaurant chain planned to reopen all 10 of its Oahu outlets on Sept. 10 and the one on Kauai once renovations being made there are completed. “The management team of Genki Sushi restaurants on Oahu and Kauai has given us their full cooperation, and the department is confident that they are in compliance with all health regulations,” said Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler. Mary Hansen, chief administrative officer for Genki Sushi USA, said that the company’s employees scheduled to work in the Oahu and Kauai restaurants had been screened, tested, and vaccinated for Hepatitis A, and that all test results were negative. “It is very reassuring that none of our employees tested positive for the virus and we are happy that they can get back to work when the restaurants reopen. At the same time, our hearts go out to those who have the illness and hope for their speedy recovery,” she said. The state health department closed down the Genki Sushi restaurants on Oahu and Kauai on Aug. 16 after determining there was a link between the outbreak of Hepatitis A infections and frozen scallops served raw at the company’s outlets. The likely source of the contamination was identified as Sea Port Bay Scallops imported from the Philippines and distributed in Hawaii by Koha Oriental Foods and True World Foods. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration stated that laboratory analysis done Aug. 17 of two scallop samples collected on Aug. 11 tested positive for Hepatitis A. These samples were imported by Sea Port Products Corp. and were produced on Nov. 23 and 24, 2015, the agency stated. On Aug. 18, Sea Port Products Corp. recalled three lots of frozen bay scallops produced on Nov. 23 and 24, 2015. The lot numbers are 5885, 5886, and 5887. The products were distributed to California, Hawaii, and Nevada. The company indicated that the recalled products are not intended for retail sale. “The scallops received by True World Foods have not been distributed to any restaurants in the state, and were embargoed at their warehouse. The scallops served at Genki locations on the Big Island and Maui originated from a different supplier and have not been associated with the outbreak,” the health department noted in a statement posted on its website. According to news reports, Genki Sushi was Koha Oriental Food’s only client for those particular scallops, and the distributor has since changed sources. The source of the implicated scallops, De Oro Resources Inc., has been temporarily suspended by the government of the Philippines from distributing its products and ordered to test its employees for Hepatitis A. However, an agriculture official with the Philippines government said that all 129 workers who shuck scallops and work in the company’s processing plant had tested negative for the virus. As of Sept. 7, the case count in Hawaii’s Hepatitis A outbreak stood at 252, with 66 hospitalizations. All of those sickened have been adults. The state health department stated that onset of illness has ranged from June 12 to Aug. 30, and that officials still expect to see additional cases given the long incubation period for Hepatitis A. Symptoms can show up anywhere from 15 to 50 days after exposure to the virus. Hepatitis A symptoms can include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, diarrhea, yellow skin and eyes, pale-colored stools, vomiting, and headaches and/or body aches. Hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin injections are effective after exposure, but only if they are given within two weeks of exposure. Anyone who believes they have been exposed to the Hepatitis A virus should consult a health care provider.
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