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Hawaii Hepatitis Outbreak Increases to 276 Confirmed Cases

Since the last update, HDOH has identified 5 new cases of hepatitis A.  All cases have been in adults, 68 have required hospitalization.

hepatitis-header

Findings of the investigation suggest that the source of the outbreak is focused on Oahu. Ten (10) individuals are residents of the islands of Hawaii, Kauai, or Maui, and four visitors have returned to the mainland.

CONFIRMED CASES OF HEPATITIS A
276

Onset of illness has ranged between 6/12/16 – 9/15/16.

Hawaii Hepatitis A Outbreak Rises to 271 Cases – New Restaurant Identified

Since the last update, HDOH has identified 19 new cases of hepatitis A.  All cases have been in adults, 68 have required hospitalization.

Findings of the investigation suggest that the source of the outbreak is focused on Oahu. Ten (10) individuals are residents of the islands of Hawaii, Kauai, or Maui, and four visitors have returned to the mainland.

CONFIRMED CASES OF HEPATITIS A
271

Onset of illness has ranged between 6/12/16 – 9/4/16.

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) confirmed an additional case of hepatitis A in an Oahu food service worker. The infected case is an employee at Harbor Restaurant at Pier 38, located at 1133 North Nimitz Highway, Honolulu. Affected dates of service are Aug. 26 through Sept. 12, 2016.

harbor-bar

“Because of the long incubation period for hepatitis A, we are continuing to see new cases of this illness even after identifying and removing contaminated scallops from Hawaii restaurants, and individuals exposed in July and August may become ill as late as September or October,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park. “We want the public to understand that this does not represent a new outbreak, nor is this restaurant considered a source of the ongoing outbreak.”

DOH is providing this information to the public as a precaution in an attempt to prevent any new cases. The likelihood that patrons of this business will become infected is very low. To date, DOH has confirmed a total of 252 cases of hepatitis A as part of this outbreak investigation.

Updated case counts and information are provided each Wednesday along with a complete list of food service establishments who have had employees diagnosed with hepatitis infection within the past 50 days at the following link: http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/hepatitis-a-outbreak-2016.

Vaccination provides the best protection from hepatitis A, so any person who consumed food or beverage products prepared or served at this business during the identified periods may want to contact their healthcare providers about receiving a vaccine or immune globulin (IG). This may provide some protection against the disease if administered within two weeks after exposure. A statewide list of vaccinating pharmacies can be found at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/files/2013/07/IMM_Adult_Resource_List.pdf or by calling the Aloha United Way information and referral line at 2-1-1.  Help prevent the spread of hepatitis A by washing your hands often and thoroughly, especially after using the bathroom and before preparing food. For more information on proper  handwashing, please go to the following site:  http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/dib/infectious-disease-surveillance/handwashing.

 

Genki Sushi Receives Approval From Hawaii Department of Health to Reopen After Hepatitis A Outbreak

Genki Sushi announced today it has received approval from the Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) to reopen its restaurants after full compliance with the department’s strict conditions, including confirmation that none of its employees scheduled to work for the reopening tested positive for hepatitis A. Genki Sushi will reopen all 10 of its restaurants on Oahu tomorrow (Saturday, Sept. 10). Genki’s only restaurant on Kauai will remain closed temporarily to complete renovations already underway.

genki-sushi“Serving safe, high-quality food is always our top priority and we deeply regret that the ongoing investigation by the Department of Health is indicating that customers may have become ill from a food product that our restaurants on Oahu and Kauai received from a distributor,” said Mary Hansen, chief administrative officer for Genki Sushi USA. “After being informed by the Department of Health of its decision to temporarily close some of our restaurants while it investigated the source of the illness, we worked cooperatively with health officials to take the necessary steps to ensure the health and safety of our customers, our employees and the community. We are now pleased to reopen our Oahu restaurants and appreciate the understanding and support of our customers during this period.”

Genki has been closely communicating with DOH to determine what the company needed to do in order to eliminate any potential sources of the infection from its restaurants and meet specific requirements from the DOH to resume operations.

 “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 Dr. Virginia Pressler, director of the Hawaii Department of Health. “Genki Sushi has been cleared by the Department of Health to reopen to the public.”

While DOH directives only called for the disposal of opened containers or packages of food items that may have been exposed, Genki Sushi made the decision to discard all produce and food items that could have been exposed, and sanitized sealed food packages as specified by the DOH. In addition, all single-serve equipment or utensils such as napkins, chopsticks, cups and takeout containers were also discarded.

Following state guidelines, all food and non-food-contact surfaces throughout each of the restaurants were completely disinfected with DOH-approved sanitizing formulas. The surfaces, including counters, machines, equipment, floors and walls throughout the kitchens, dining rooms, restrooms and employee areas were scrubbed and rinsed.

“We greatly appreciate the ongoing assistance and guidance provided by the Department of Health throughout this situation as we focused on the common goal of protecting the public’s health,” said Hansen.

All employees scheduled to work in the impacted restaurants were screened, tested and vaccinated for the hepatitis A virus subject to DOH standards and all of the test results were negative. The DOH also conducted food safety classes for Genki employees at each restaurant site which were based on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) manual on hygiene and food safety. Genki Sushi will continue to follow the FDA manual on hygiene and food safety in addition to the company’s regular employee training and policies.

“Our entire staff has shown tremendous resiliency and teamwork in doing what was needed to reopen our restaurants so we can continue to serve our customers in the safest manner possible,” said Hansen. “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.

“Genki Sushi is a longtime member of the local community with over 350 enthusiastic employees, and our restaurants have been venues for countless birthday and graduation parties and family get-togethers. We want to make sure that our customers can rest assured when they come in for sushi that they will be served safe, high-quality food,” added Hansen.

Genki Sushi remains committed to continuing to enforce its food safety and sanitation program and will work with health officials to make any recommended improvements to its policies and procedures. These efforts include continuing to require all of its managers to be ServSafe certified, a training program administered by the National Restaurant Association.

Genki is also taking additional steps beyond required state rules to ensure the long-term health and safety of its restaurants. Genki will also work with all its vendors to improve food safety policies and procedures. The company will continue to require that all its vendors are certified and follow Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) management systems for addressing food safety and handling, as well as FDA and DOH policies and regulations.

Hawaii Hepatitis A Outbreak Climbs to 241 Cases

Since the last update, Hawaii Department of Health has identified 13 new cases of hepatitis A.  All cases have been in adults, 64 have required hospitalization.

hepatitis header

Findings of the investigation suggest that the source of the outbreak is focused on Oahu. Ten (10) individuals are residents of the islands of Hawaii, Kauai, or Maui, and four visitors have returned to the mainland.

CONFIRMED CASES OF HEPATITIS A
241

Onset of illness has ranged between 6/12/16 – 8/25/16.

Big Island Restaurant Linked to Hepatitis A Outbreak – Confirmed Cases at 93

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed a new case of hepatitis A infection in a food service employee on Hawaii Island.

The employee has a history of exposure on Oahu and worked at the fast food and catering restaurant, Sushi Shiono Waikoloa, located in the Waikoloa Beach Resort, Queen’s MarketPlace at 69-201 Waikoloa Beach Drive, from July 5 through July 21, 2016 (actual dates: July 5-8, 11-15, and 18-21).

Waikoloa SushiThe department is advising persons who consumed any food products from this store during this period that they may have been exposed to the disease.

The likelihood that patrons of this business will become infected is very low. However, as a precaution, unvaccinated individuals should contact their healthcare providers about the possibility of receiving hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin, which may provide some protection against the disease if administered within the first two weeks after exposure.

Since the outbreak began in mid-June, there have been 93 confirmed cases of hepatitis A, 29 of which have required hospitalization. All cases have been in adults who were on Oahu during their exposure periods. DOH continues to investigate and is working to identify the source of infection for this outbreak.

“Preventing exposure from infected food handlers is difficult because patients with hepatitis A are most contagious one to two weeks before symptoms start,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park.“ It is possible that other food service establishments will be affected with additional new cases.”

Affected food service establishments who are unable to notify their customers directly are listed on the DOH website at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/hepatitis-a-outbreak-2016/. These businesses are not sources of this outbreak. At this time, no infections have been linked to exposure at these businesses; the list is provided to prevent possible new cases. Hawaii State law requires all unvaccinated food handlers (persons who directly prepare, serve, or handle food) who are contacts of confirmed cases be tested for infection and have a negative hepatitis A IgM test before returning to work. A “contact” with the case is defined as unvaccinated household members, unvaccinated sexual contacts, anyone sharing illicit drugs with a case, anyone sharing food or eating or drinking utensils with a case, anyone consuming ready-to-eat foods prepared by an infectious food handler with diarrhea or poor hygiene.

Once an infected food handler has been identified, DOH staff coordinate directly with the owners and managers of the affected food service establishments to ensure their employees are tested before resuming their work.

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 and thorough hand washing 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.

Additional information about hepatitis A can be found on the DOH website at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/hepatitis-a-outbreak-2016/.

For a statewide list of vaccinating pharmacies, visit 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.