The number of hepatitis A cases in Hawaii has reached 241, up 13, nearly 6 percent, over the past week, state officials said today.
The outbreak appears to have passed its peak, with the pace of infection slowing since the source was identified this month as contaminated scallops and they were pulled from the market.
The Health Department releases the total number of cases each Wednesday. Last week’s total of 228 cases was nearly an 11 percent increase over the previous week.
So far, 64 people have been hospitalized as a result of the infectious liver disease.
The hepatitis A virus has a long incubation period, from 15 to 50 days after exposure. So cases will continue to appear even thought people are no longer consuming the tainted product.
Health Department officials traced the outbreak to frozen scallops contaminated with hepatitis A that were imported frozen from the Philippines and served raw at Genki Sushi restaurants on Oahu and Kauai. Those restaurants were closed on Aug. 15 and the scallops were recalled by their importer, Sea Port Products Corp., of Kirkland, Wash., shortly afterward.
Hepatitis A is usually spread when a person ingests even microscopic amounts of human fecal matter through food, drink or other objects. A vaccine is effective in preventing the disease, and thorough hand-washing after using the toilet and before eating can help stem its spread.