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Hepatitis A infection confirmed in worker at Hokkaido Ramen Santouka, total cases up to 206

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    Mary Hansen, Chief Administrative Officer, Genki Sushi USA, Inc. Dr. Sarah Park, State Epidemiologist, Dr. Virginia Pressler, State Health Director, and Peter Oshiro, Sanitation Branch Chief, spoke at a press conference on Tuesday to address the Hepatitis A outbreak.

Hawaii Department of Health officials said today that they have identified 38 new cases of hepatitis A, bringing the total of this summer’s outbreak to 206 statewide.

The health department this afternoon confirmed an additional case in another Oahu food service worker, this one an employee at Hokkaido Ramen Santouka restaurant, 801 Kaheka St. The employee worked on July 21-23 and 26-30, and Aug. 2-6 and 9-11.

“Even though we’ve identified and work to confirm the likely source of the overall outbreak, we may continue to see new cases with hepatitis A infection like this person because of how long ago people would have been exposed,“ said State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park. “Our work to control further spread of disease is not yet over.”

Most of the more than 200 cases are on Oahu but nine patients are residents of the islands of Hawaii, Kauai, or Maui, and one is a visitor who has returned to the mainland, officials said. All cases have been in adults and 51 have required hospitalization, they said.

On Tuesday, health officials said frozen raw scallops suspected of triggering the outbreak came from the Philippines and were served at Genki Sushi restaurants on Oahu and Kauai but not other islands.

The state slapped an embargo on the suspect scallops and their distributors and shut down Genki Sushi’s 10 restaurants on Oahu and single outlet on Kauai late Monday. Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler said the department acted immediately after concluding the scallops were the likely source of the outbreak, the worst in the state in two decades.

The hepatitis A virus is a contagious liver disease and more cases are expected because the disease has a long incubation period. It typically spreads through contaminated food. Hepatitis A is spread through contaminated food or drink, or by close personal contact with a carrier. Its symptoms, which can appear weeks after exposure, include fatigue, nausea, abdominal pain, dark urine, joint pain and jaundice — a yellowing of the skin and eyes.

The imported frozen scallops, chopped and served raw with mayonnaise atop a rice ball wrapped with dried seaweed, were among sushi items offered on conveyor belts to customers. The Health Department identified the product as Sea Port Bay Scallops (Wild Harvest, Raw Frozen), with the notation “Product of the Philippines.”

State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park advised anyone who has eaten at Genki Sushi on Oahu or Kauai recently, especially if they had scallops, to contact their health care provider about getting the hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin, which can prevent the disease if given within two weeks of exposure. She also told them to watch for symptoms of the disease for up to 50 days.

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  • DOH may have finally identified the source of the Hep A infection however given that it took so long to identify the source, Hep A has now spread and those infected have now become
    the vectors of the disease who will infect others and on and on it goes. Especially problematic will be those infected persons who work in other food establishments who have the likelihood
    of infecting many before they realize they are infected.. The latest people found to be infected appear to include those on the Big Island, Maui, and Kauai which may mean that Hep A has now spread beyond Oahu and has gone statewide which is of real concern. There may also be other cases from tourists from the mainland and Japan, China, and Korea which may begin showing up which will have negative effects on tourism.
    The other area of concern is that although Genki Sushi has been identified as where the Hep A originated, what about other food establishments who may have purchased the same
    contaminated scallops from the two seafood wholesalers who brought in the contaminated scallops. Where else were the scallops sold.
    Still no answers from DOH on this issue and nothing to indicate that SA is following up on this.

    • Last night news showed the distributor saying that these scallops were only sold to Genki reataurants, as they had specified for them. Also that they then got too expensive to sell to anyone else.

  • I think everyone who eats any raw fish or shell fish you just get the vaccine. I got mine many years ago. It’s no big deal. It’s like getting a flu shot.

  • Not all tainted seafood come from just one country. The bad companies that do not comply with basic health and food safety procedures are to blame. Identifying those specific violators in each country may be difficult, but has to be done. Would it be better to have more seafood available from US sourced companies? That can be accomplished so long as idiots like Senator Brian Schatz want to ban fishing in Hawaii and US waters in the name of the “environment”. Take your choice, Hep A tainted food or a vast Hawaiian ocean preserve to make Schatz happy.

    • If Virginia Pressler was half as competent as he thinks, the CDC would not have had to send a team to Hawaii to help them resolve this issue. Strange enough, they found the source a week after the CDC arrived to help after looking for months.
      200 people infected, 70% report they ate at Genki. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the source.

  • I can see it now, all the tourist cancelling their vacations to our beautiful island’s. All the money that would have been spent on food and lodging, all gone.

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