Hepatitis A numbers climb

HONOLULU — Over the past week, 22 more hepatitis A cases have been reported in Hawaii, bringing the total to 228 confirmed cases as of Wednesday, according to the state’s Department of Health.

Three of those people are located on Kauai, and representatives from DOH told TGI Monday that those three cases have recovered.

Another two of those 228 confirmed hepatitis A cases were flight attendants at Hawaiian Airlines. Hawaii DOH announced the latest flight attendant case Tuesday.

The latest Hawaiian Airlines flight attendant that was diagnosed with hepatitis A served in-flight food and beverages to passengers on four flights:

w July 31 — Flight HA22 from Honolulu to Seattle

w Aug. 1 — Flight HA21 from Seattle to Honolulu

w Aug. 10 — Flight HA18 from Honolulu to Las Vegas

w Aug. 12 — Flight HA17 from Las Vegas to Honolulu

According to Hawaiian Airlines, the company has isolated the flights taken by both of the individuals to July 1 to Aug. 12.

Hawaiian Airlines is “taking necessary precautions for the health of our customers and employees.”

“This case is a reminder that hepatitis A symptoms can appear up to 50 days after exposure,” said state epidemiologist Sarah Park. “This is why we expect to continue to see cases in coming weeks and why we need to remain vigilant to prevent further transmissions, even though the product has been pulled from the market.”

DOH identified wild harvested, raw, frozen scallops imported from the Philippines as the likely source of the hepatitis A contamination Aug. 15, and testing by the Food and Drug Administration confirmed DOH’s suspicions.

The scallops were served at multiple statewide locations of the chain restaurant Genki Sushi, and after identifying Sea Port Bay scallops as the source of the outbreak, DOH ordered 11 Genki Sushi restaurants to close on Oahu and Kauai.

True World Foods, a major seafood distributor based in New Jersey, was implicated as involved in the hepatitis A outbreak in the beginning of the investigation. After further investigation, however, it was discovered the product was imported by Sea Port Products Corporation in Washington State.

True World Foods representatives said the distributor does purchase Sea Port Bay scallops, and does ship that product to Oahu and Kauai, “but had not yet shipped the affected lots from its warehouse.”

“True World Foods is in the process of destroying the suspect scallops from the Philippines under the supervision of the FDA,” the release said.

The restaurant chain said the company has been “working cooperatively with the department to take the required steps to comply with health standards and resume business.”

“While our goal is to reopen our restaurants as soon as possible, Genki Sushi’s top priority is the health and safety of our customers, employees and the community,” said Mary Hansen, chief administrative officer, Genki Sushi USA.

Employees at affected restaurants are being screened and vaccinated, and Genki Sushi is awaiting the testing and vaccination results of more than 350 people.

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