Patrons of a Baskin-Robbins ice cream store in Waikele Center during the last two months may have been exposed to the hepatitis A virus after one of the store’s employees was confirmed to have the disease, the state Health Department said today.
People who haven’t had the hepaptitis A vaccine or immune globulin and who consumed any food or drinks from the Waikele store on June 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 25, 27, 30, and July 1 and 3 should contact their healthcare providers about getting vaccinated, which may provide some protection against the disease if administered within the first two weeks after exposure, the Health Department said in a news release.
There have been 52 cases of hepatitis A reported to and now confirmed by health officials.
All cases have been in adults on Oahu, 16 have required hospitalization.
“The source of this outbreak has still not been determined. In the meantime, we encourage all persons consider and talk to their healthcare provider about getting vaccinated,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park. “This case demonstrates the potential to spread hepatitis A virus to many others who remain susceptible. In an effort to stem the spread of disease, individuals, including food service employees, exhibiting symptoms of hepatitis A infection should stay home and contact their healthcare provider.”
Symptoms of hepatitis A infection include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, diarrhea, and yellow skin and eyes, and typically last several weeks to as long as two months. Treatment of hepatitis A is supportive, and most people will recover without complications.
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.
Hepatitis A vaccine is readily available at local pharmacies. Two doses of hepatitis A vaccine, given at least six months apart, are needed for protection. For a 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.
Additional information about hepatitis A can be found on the DOH website at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/dib/disease/hepatitis-a/.