comscore Hepatitis A outbreak infects 93, including Big Isle restaurant worker
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Hepatitis A outbreak infects 93, including Big Isle restaurant worker

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  • BRUCE ASATO / NOV. 2013

    Dr. Sarah Park, state epidemiologist, emphasized that the sushi shop is not the source of the outbreak and the chance that the worker passedon the infection at the work site is “very low.”

The worst hepatitis A outbreak in nearly two decades in Hawaii has now infected 93 people including a food service worker at a sushi restaurant and catering spot on the grounds of the Waikoloa Beach Resort on Hawaii island.

This is the first time during the outbreak that a restaurant at a tourist resort or on a Neighbor Island has had an employee identified as having hepatitis A. All of the victims so far were exposed to the disease on Oahu, but four live on Maui, Kauai and the Big Island.

Dr. Sarah Park, state epidemiologist, emphasized that the sushi shop is not the source of the outbreak and the chance that the worker passed on the infection at the work site is “very low.” The public is alerted in hopes of preventing new cases, she said.

The state Health Department advises anyone who consumed any food from Sushi Shiono Waikoloa on certain dates in July to contact their health care provider about getting the hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin to help protect against the viral liver disease. The precise dates of possible exposure are July 5-8, July 11-15 and July 18-21.

Two other food service workers at separate establishments on Oahu, Taco Bell in Waipio and Baskin-Robbins at Waikele Center, also came down with the disease earlier but there is no evidence so far that they transmitted it to customers.

This is the worst hepatitis A outbreak in the islands in nearly two decades. So far, 29 of the 93 victims have required hospitalization. The onset of symptoms for the earliest victims was June 12 and the most recent is July 19.

Hepatitis A can spread through contaminated food or water, or close personal contact. It is shed in the feces of infected people and just a tiny trace is sufficient to spread it. Thorough hand-washing is crucial after using the toilet or changing a diaper, and before handling food. The vaccine can prevent infection if administered within two weeks of exposure.

Symptoms of the disease include fever, nausea, vomiting, unusual stools, fatigue, dark urine, jaundice and pain. Most people recover on their own, but in rare cases it can cause liver failure. The disease has a long incubation period, taking 15 to 50 days to produce symptoms.

More information is available at

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  • “Slime in the ice-machine”, was the slogan used by a newscaster in Houston, Texas in the mid 80’s on Fridays nights on the 5 o’clock news. He reported on the sanitary inspections conducted by the city of all licensed restaurants. Rat and cock roach infestations, plus frozen food left on the counter for undue time were the most popular violations. Effective sanitation inspection is a must to deter the spread of infectious diseases.

  • Sounds like it has now spread to the Big Island and the DOH has no idea of where these people became infected. Washing your hands is always a smart thing to do however
    if the food becomes infected itself, hand washing will not be of any help.
    The smarter thing to do maybe to stop eating out all together at least until this infection burns itself out. Even then, going shopping for anything may expose you to
    the infection as it can be spread by an infected person handling the item, you then touch.

    • What ingredients are common to restaurants that serve ice cream, tacos, and sashimi that might be imported from foreign countries where sanitation laws are unenforced?

    • Need to slacken privacy concerns and put the case history of all 93 people online so that someone can figure out the nexus of how this virus is spreading. Leave out names but you have to put really detailed daily dairy of 30 to 50 days of each person like Person A woke up at 9am, used the bathroom, ate leftover zippy’s chilis from the frigerator, took a shower, brush teaeth, shopped at Costco Kapolei at 10am, went home then went to McCully McD’s at 11am, took a nap then drove to Times Waipahu and bought local bananas, alfalfa and bean sprouts which was served for dinner as a salad, etc., watched TV till 3pm then drove to Kapolei shopping center, used the 1st floor bathroom then drank water at the nearby water fountain, etc. etc.

      Not trying to be funny but give some really sharp person like Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs all of the case files and history of all 93 people and bet he would start identifying the most likely culprits. Or like S.R. Hadden in the movie Contact who identified the primer to deciper the alien schematic to access the wormhole transport system that connects the universe. Agree need to get some fresh eyes on this problem because it is getting worse. To start look local like Hawaii grown, including organic bean sprouts, alfalfa, bananas, papayas, etc and distributed via farmers markets or supermarkets, local stands, etc. when you know people will not cook these items to gain maximum nutrition. That or raw seafood like shelfish, oysters, etc. Read online HepA virus is killed at 185F for 1.5 minutes so sounds like something eaten raw. Or maybe a contaminated water fountain? Many years ago saw some guy from far away go she she in a public water fountain in a public Oahu park.

    • But it’s not. If this strain is not abnormally communicable, it’s obviously from something only available on Oahu. This also means that it’s either made/farmed on Oahu or packaged on Oahu only for Oahu consumption. There aren’t THAT many products that match that description.

  • it may not even be the restaurant’s fault.

    customers who don’t wash their hands transfer disease to money, counters, chairs, tables, silverware, glasses and plates that are then handled by restaurant staff or other customers and the transfer of disease is continued.

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