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Mililani school cafeteria worker tests positive for hepatitis A

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    Kipapa Elementary School in Mililani.

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.

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  • “the affected cafeteria employee worked in the kitchen from Aug. 3-16.” – Since “hepatitis A symptoms can appear up to 50 days after exposure”, isn’t it likely that this worker had worked some other place (even another school cafeteria) while infected?

    The DOH should be checking every place an infected person worked for at least 50 days before showing symptoms.

  • Wow Mililani school cafeteria worker & Hawaiian Airlines flight attendant tests positive for Hep A. Must be the next cool thing to have after hoverboards! /s/

  • The critical question is “did the cafeteria worker eat tainted food from Genki?” Right now the public has no inkling of what the actual risk of contracting the virus from other sources based on information in the media. Catching this disease and needing a liver transplant to survive is proof that the public needs to know the actual risk of exposure so people can use their discretion to avoid suspect places to protect themselves. It seems that anyone who ate at Genki should get tested instead of just waiting for symptoms so that they don’t inadvertently expose others if they eventually test positive.

    • This is the million dollar question and one that the Dept of Health needs to disclose to all of us. Agree 110%, need to know the source of this cafeteria workers Hep A exposure. If is was Genki the that is a really positive thing because this is the reported source of the outbreak. Please Hon Star Advertiser, follow on this and let us know.

  • Did the cafeteria worker also eat at the Genki restaurant?…did all of the infected eat at Genki or at other restaurants as well?….I think the health department should have gave more info regarding this instead of leaving the public in the dark……

  • Cleaning the cafeteria and testing the workers all well and good but a little late. All food workers must be tested immediately and
    vaccinated or you are not going to get anywhere. Already, many vectors of the disease are out there and it is going to be an epidemic
    soon.

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