The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) is continuing its investigation of a hepatitis A outbreak on the island of Oahu and has confirmed two new cases in a food service employee at Chili’s restaurant located at 590 Farrington Highway in Kapolei, and a Hawaiian Airlines flight attendant.
“At this time, no infections have been linked to exposure at these businesses and they are not sources of the outbreak,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park. “We are alerting the public only as a precaution; the risk of transmission is extremely low and these businesses are working with us to help prevent potentially new cases in our community.”
Although it is not a food service establishment, Hawaiian Airlines has been named because the infected crew member served inflight food and beverages to passengers. Hawaiian Airlines customers may go to www.hawaiianairlines.com/hepatitisA for detailed information on affected flights and other support available.
“The most infectious period for this disease may be as much as two weeks before the onset of symptoms — before the individual even knows he or she is sick,” Park added. “The public’s health is our main concern, and we feel it is important to equip people with this information so they may work with their healthcare providers to protect their health.”
Persons who consumed food or beverage products from these businesses during the identified periods may have been exposed to the disease and are recommended to:
- Contact their healthcare providers about the possibility of receiving hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin (IG), which may provide some protection against the disease if administered within two weeks after exposure.
- Monitor their health for symptoms of hepatitis A infection up to 50 days after exposure.
- Wash their hands with soap and warm water frequently and thoroughly, especially after using the bathroom and before preparing food.
- Stay at home and contact their healthcare provider immediately if symptoms of hepatitis A infection develop.
To help prevent the spread of disease during the investigation, the public is encouraged to talk to their healthcare providers about vaccination. A statewide list of vaccinating pharmacies is available at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/files/2013/07/IMM_Adult_Resource_List.pdf or call the Aloha United Way information and referral line at 2-1-1.
As of July 26, the current number of hepatitis A cases linked to the outbreak is 93. This number is updated weekly on Wednesday and posted at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/hepatitis-a-outbreak-2016/.
Symptoms of hepatitis A infection include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, diarrhea, and yellow skin and eyes. Individuals, including food service employees, exhibiting symptoms of hepatitis A should stay home and contact their healthcare provider.
While vaccination provides the best protection, frequent handwashing with soap and warm water after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, and before preparing food can help prevent the spread of hepatitis A. Appropriately cooking foods can also help prevent infection.
For the complete list of food service establishments that have had employees diagnosed with hepatitis A infection, visithttp://health.hawaii.gov/docd/hepatitis-a-outbreak-2016/.
For additional information about hepatitis A go to http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/hepatitis-a-outbreak-2016/.