What you need to know about Hepatitis A in Hawaii

Published: Jul. 16, 2016 at 4:39 PM HST|Updated: May. 2, 2017 at 8:50 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - An outbreak of Hepatitis A in Hawaii last year sickened hundreds of people, and more than 75 had to be hospitalized for treatment. At least one woman who ate tainted scallops died of liver failure.

Health Department officials first began investigating the outbreak in July of 2016. More than a month later, they determined that frozen scallops that were served at Genki Sushi restaurants on Oahu and Kauai were to blame for the outbreak.

As a result, 11 of the chain's eateries were shut down and to disinfect facilities from floor-to-ceiling.

Here's what you need to know about Hepatitis A

  • How is Hepatitis A passed on to other people?

Someone gets Hepatitis A by consuming contaminated food or water. The virus is found in the feces of people with the infection.

Hepatitis A can be spread through direct contact, though the risk of transmission is very low. Sneezing or coughing, however, cannot spread the virus.

  • What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of Hepatitis A include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, diarrhea, and yellow skin and eyes. They typically last several weeks to as long as two months.

It can take from two weeks to as long as 50 days after being exposed to Hepatitis A for someone to exhibit symptoms.

For a full list of vaccination sites, click here.

  • Is there a vaccine?

Yes, and most children today have been vaccinated against Hepatitis A. But many adolescents and adults haven't been, which is why health officials are so concerned about the outbreak.

Two doses of Hepatitis A vaccine are needed for lasting protection. Doses should be given at least six months apart.

For a list of pharmacies offering the vaccine, click here.

  • Is there anything else I can do to reduce my risk of getting Hepatitis A?

While a vaccine provides the best protection against hepatitis, frequent hand-washing and properly cooking food can help prevent the spread of the virus.

  • What’s the treatment for Hepatitis A?

Most people with Hepatitis A will recover without complications, though they may need close monitoring by a doctor. Anyone exhibiting symptoms of Hepatitis A should seek medical assistance.

Of those who have gotten sick in the outbreak, at least 46 have required hospitalization.

  • How many cases of Hepatitis A does Hawaii see annually?

In a typical year, the state sees under 20 Hepatitis A cases. The figure has been as low as five in some years.

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