The State Department of Health is urging the public to seek vaccinations for hepatitis A following an increase in cases. The number of cases on O‘ahu has grown to 52…with 16 of those people requiring hospitalization.
DOH officials are also investigating a confirmed case from an employee at a Baskins-Robbins in Waikele. People who consumed food from the shop between June 1th, and July 3rd are being advised to contact healthcare providers to receive a vaccine or immune globulin.
Officials say the outbreak is not the fault of the restaurant… and the situation could have happened anywhere. Dr. Sarah Park is the State Epidemiologist. She says the first thing people can do is remember to wash their hands.
Symptoms of hepatitis A infection include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, diarrhea, and yellow skin and eyes, and typically last several weeks to as long as two months. Treatment of hepatitis A is supportive, and most people will recover without complications.
While vaccination provides the best protection, frequent handwashing with soap and warm water after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, and before preparing food can help prevent the spread of hepatitis A. Appropriately cooking foods can also help prevent infection.
Hepatitis A vaccine is readily available at local pharmacies. Two doses of hepatitis A vaccine, given at least six (6) months apart, are needed for lasting protection. For a list of vaccinating pharmacies, visit 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.
Additional information about hepatitis A can be found on the DOH website at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/dib/disease/hepatitis-a/.