The number of people infected in the Hawaii Hepatitis A outbreak has risen to 135, state Department of Health official say. Of the 135 infected, 39 have required hospitalization due to the severity of their illnesses. Although the majority of those affected are from the island of Oahu, at number of those sickened live on other islands. At least one person contracted the virus while on vacation from the mainland. The Hepatitis A outbreak is now the largest in the Hawaii’s history.
Hawaiian Airlines Flight Attendant Served Food, Drinks to Passengers for 26 Days While Infected
Hawaiian Airlines and the state Department of Health both confirm that a Hawaiian Airlines flight attendant continued to work after contracting Hepatitis A. The flight attendant continued to serve inflight food and drinks to traveling passengers, which may have facilitated spread of the virus to those being served.
The flight attendant was potentially infectious and working during the period from July 1st to July 26th.
The Department of Health has released a list of all flights the attendant was on from July 1st through July 26th. The attendant worked both intra-island flights and flights to the mainland, including destinations such as Las Vegas, Nevada and Oakland, California.
Individuals who traveled on those flights are encouraged to contact their health provider, particularly because the virus can infect a person for a month or more before the infected individual starts showing symptoms of the infection. While a vaccine for Hepatitis A exists, it must be administered within two weeks of exposure to the virus to be effective.
Additional Infected Hawaii Food Service Employees Identified
Hawaii sate officials confirmed cases of Hepatitis A in a number of food service workers. Officials do not believe any of the food service locations with Hepatitis A-positive employees to be the original source of the outbreak. However, officials have been releasing the names and locations of establishments with ill service workers as a precautionary measure and in hopes of preventing the further spread of the virus.
State officials encourage people who visited establishments where infected individuals worked to consult their healthcare providers about the possibility of receiving the Hepatitis A vaccine and monitor themselves for symptoms of Hepatitis A for 50 days after exposure.
The Hawaii Department of Health confirmed an additional case of Hepatitis A in a food service worker on Friday, August 5th: a food service worker at Tamashiro Market worked from July 2nd through July 23rd while potentially infectious. In addition, food service workers at the following establishments have been diagnosed with confirmed cases of Hepatitis A:
- Taco Bell (Waipio, June 16-July 11)
- Sushi Shiono (Waikoloa Beach Resort, July 5-July 21)
- Hawaiian Airlines (July 1-July 26, flight list here)
- Costco Bakery (Hawaii Kai, June 16-June 20)
- Chili’s (Kapolei, July 10-July 27)
- Baskin-Robbins (Waikele Center, June 17-July 3).
For more details on the locations and dates of service effected, see the Department of Heath’s Hepatitis A Outbreak site.
Outbreak Source Remains Elusive as Case Count Grows
“At this time, no infections have been linked to exposure at these businesses and they are not sources of the outbreak,” said state epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park. “We are alerting the public only as a precaution; the risk of transmission is extremely low and these businesses are working with us to help prevent potentially new cases in our community.”
According to the Department of Health, “identifying the source of infection continues to be a challenge because of the long incubation period of the disease and the difficulty patients have in accurately recalling the foods consumed and locations visited during the period when infection could have taken place.”