Lunches for the 590 students at Kipapa Elementary School are being prepared at another school after a kitchen worker was confirmed to have contracted hepatitis A this week.
Donalyn Dela Cruz, Department of Education spokeswoman, said the cafeteria worker called Kipapa Elementary School’s principal Corrine Yogi Monday and informed her of the positive test result.
Dela Cruz said the school immediately closed its cafeteria and began testing all of its cafeteria workers.
“All the tests have come in negative,” Dela Cruz added.
In addition, the Department of Education contracted a commercial company to clean the cafeteria and has asked the health department to inspect it.
“We are doing more than what is required,” Dela Cruz said, “because we feel strongly about protecting the children.”
In a letter sent to Kipapa Elementary School parents Tuesday, Yogi said the affected cafeteria employee worked in the kitchen from Aug. 3-16.
“At Kipapa Elementary School,” Yogi said, “the health and safety of our students and employees are of utmost importance. While our cafeteria is always run with safety precautions in mind, our kitchen will remain closed until the kitchen staff has cleared appropriate health requirements.”
The Health Department recommends schoolchildren receive the hepatitis A vaccination as part of routine childhood vaccinations and Yogi said that any “previously vaccinated child would already be immune to hepatitis A infection.”
Children who have not previously been vaccinated should be seen by their pediatrician about the possibility of receiving a vaccine or immune globulin, which may provide some protection against the disease if administered within two weeks after exposure, she said.
As of today, there have been 228 cases of hepatitis A in Hawaii, according to the health department.
The health department Tuesday reported that a second Hawaiian Airlines flight attendant, who served in-flight food and beverages to passengers, was confirmed to have hepatitis A.
Another flight attendant was infected last month.
The Health Department has identified imported frozen scallops as the likely source of the outbreak and embargoed the product statewide on August 15.
“This case is a reminder that hepatitis A symptoms can appear up to 50 days after exposure,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park said in the news release. “This is why we expect to continue to see cases in coming weeks, and why we need to remain vigilant to prevent further transmission, even though the product has been pulled off the market.”
The Health Department is recommending people who may have been exposed to the disease to contact their doctor about receiving a vaccine, which can provide some protection against the disease if administered within two weeks after exposure. A statewide list of vaccinating pharmacies can be found at 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.