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Ben Parker Elementary cafeteria worker is latest hepatitis A food service case

A cafeteria worker at Benjamin Parker Elementary School in Kaneohe who worked in the kitchen from Aug. 28 to 30 has come down with hepatitis A.

Most children in the state are protected from the disease through vaccination, which is recommended but not required for school entry.

A letter from the principal sent home today advises parents to take children who have not already been vaccinated to the doctor for possible vaccination or immune globulin.

S0 far, 271 people have contracted hepatitis A in the current outbreak, which was traced to tainted scallops. All of the victims are adults.

“We are complying with DOH [the Department of Health] and taking precautionary measures,” Principal Kathy Kahikina wrote in the letter. “Our meals will be prepared off site until further notice.”

“While our cafeteria is always run with safety precautions in mind, our kitchen will remain closed until kitchen staff has cleared appropriate health requirements.”

Students should be monitored for possible symptoms including fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, dark urine, diarrhea and yellow skin or eyes, the letter said. Such symptoms can occur up to 50 days from exposure.

Late last month, a cafeteria worker at Kipapa Elementary School also tested positive for hepatitis A. The cafeteria was quickly closed and a commercial company was hired to clean it. Meals were prepared at another school in the mean time. Other cafeteria workers were screened and none tested positive for the virus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 87 percent of children in Hawaii age 18 months to 35 months have had the first dose of the hepatitis A vaccine, while 55 percent had the second dose.

More information about hepatitis A and how to fight it is available at health.hawaii.gov/docd/hepatitis-a-outbreak-2016/

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