At least 12 adults on Oahu were diagnosed with hepatitis A infection in the second half of June, six of whom needed hospitalization, the Health Department announced today.
Officials are investigating the cluster of cases. The virus is usually spread through contaminated food or water or close personal contact.
“Hepatitis A infection is a vaccine-preventable disease, and fortunately, most children and adolescents have been vaccinated as part of routine childhood vaccination recommendations,” said Dr. Virginia Pressler, state health director. “However, many adults have not been vaccinated and remain susceptible.”
Hepatitis A is found in the stool. It can cause fever, diarrhea, fatigue and yellow skin and eyes. Symptoms usually last several weeks. People who show symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.
State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park said health care providers have been asked to notify the department of cases.
“Treatment for hepatitis A infection is supportive only, and while most people will recover without complications, we are encouraging everyone to review their immunization record and talk to their health-care provider about vaccination,” Park said.
Washing hands with soap and warm water after using the bathroom and before preparing food can help prevent spread of the disease. Cooking food to the right temperature is also helpful.
Two doses of hepatitis A are given at least six months apart. Call Aloha United Way’s information line at 2-1-1 to locate a pharmacy offering vaccines or find a list online and more information about the disease at the Department of Health’s website.