Thursday, November 10, 2016

Hepatitis A Outbreak in Hawaii

Starting mid August, Hawaii experienced an outbreak of Hepatitis A that left over 292 people sick.  The outbreak has since been attributed to imported scallops at a chain sushi restaurant found on Oahu and Kauai.  Since this discovery, the scallops, imported from the Philippines, have been embargoed and all of this chain’s restaurants on Kauai and Oahu have been shut down temporarily (DOH - Hawaii).  While many people were affected during the outbreak (with around 25% needing to be hospitalized for their infections), a new case has not been reported in the last week (Food Safety News), likely indicating that the outbreak is nearing its end.

Hepatitis A, a member of the Picornaviridae family, is transmitted fecal-orally, which is why it is so commonly associated with contaminated food and water.  Due to this transmission pattern, sanitation practices such as hand washing and cleaning raw foods before consumption are paramount as are prevention methods such as the Hepatitis A vaccine (WHO) and have likely kept many secondary cases from occurring during this outbreak in Hawaii (Food Safety News).  Hawaii’s Department of Health reminded its residents of the option of vaccination for Hepatitis A and that this outbreak (and the subsequent increase in wanting to be vaccinated) has led to “varied supply levels around the state” (DOH - Hawaii). 


- Devon Z.

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