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Hepatitis A outbreak count at 291; McDonald’s worker sick

Wednesday, October 19, 2016 22:25
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Two new confirmed cases of Hepatitis A were recorded in Hawaii in the past week, bringing the total number of people sickened to 291. And, another restaurant worker has been identified as a victim, raising concerns about the possibility of additional exposures.

Hawaii Department of Health Officials take questions from reporters Aug. 16 following the announcement that frozen, imported scallops served at Genki Sushi restaurants have been linked to an ongoing Hepatitis A outbreak. Speakers included, from left, Health Director Virginia Pressler, State Epidemiologist Sarah Park and Sanitation Branch Chief Peter Oshiro. (File photo)

In addition to the weekly case count update, officials with Hawaii’s Department of Health reported Wednesday that a worker at McDonald’s of Kahala, at 4618 Kilauea Avenue in Honolulu, has the virus.

Officials identified raw, frozen scallops from the Philippines as the source of the outbreak and impounded them Aug. 15.

“This case (of the McDonald’s worker) was identified and reported to us later in their illness, but had their symptom onset within the 50-day maximum incubation period from the date the scallops were embargoed,” State Epidemiologist Sarah Park said in a news release.

“The department will continue to investigate all reported cases of Hepatitis A and remain alert for other late-presenting cases as well as secondary cases.”

Affected dates of service for the McDonald’s employee were Sept. 20, 21, 23, 24, 27–29, and Oct. 1, 4–5, 7, and 11. It is unlikely that any McDonald’s customers contracted the virus from the McDonald’s employee, according to state officials.

Post-exposure vaccines are effective, but only if taken within two weeks of exposure. A statewide list of vaccinating pharmacies is available at or by calling the Aloha United Way information and referral line at 2-1-1.

Anyone who had anything to eat or drink from the restaurant on the specific dates listed should monitor themselves for symptoms of Hepatitis A infection. People who develop symptoms should immediately seek medical care and tell their doctors about their potential exposure to Hepatitis A.

Symptoms usually develop within two weeks but it can take up to 50 days for some people to become sick after exposure. Not everyone — especially children — has symptoms after they are infected and contagious.

If symptoms develop, they can include: fever, fatigue, headache and/or body aches, loss of appetite, nausea, stomach pain,vomiting, diarrhea, dark colored urine and pale colored stools. Yellow skin and eyes may develop several days to a week after other symptoms begin and indicate serious illness.

Genki Sushi restaurants feature a conveyor belt delivery system for food, sending plates of raw seafood winding through tables and patrons.

The outbreak has been in the headlines since a July 1 announcement from state officials who reported 12 confirmed cases at that point.

By Aug. 15, when Hawaii’s Department of Health identified raw, frozen scallops from the Philippines as the source, more than 200 people were confirmed infected with the virus.

A large majority of victims reported they ate at Genki Sushi restaurants on Oahu and Kauai before becoming sick. Many of them reported eating raw scallops at one of the fast food chain’s locations.

The first confirmed illness began June 12, with the most recent victim becoming ill on Oct. 9. Of the 291 victims, 73 had symptoms so severe that they had to be hospitalized.

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