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Hepatitis A Outbreak in Hawaii Encourages Vaccinations of Travelers and Locals

JUL 18, 2016 | FATIA KASUMU
*Updated on 8/5/2016 at 8:41 AM EST 

The Hawaii State Department has confirmed an open investigation of the hepatitis A infection in Oahu, Hawaii. There have been 135 cases and 16 hospitalizations of hepatitis A since its onset, believed to have been from June 16 through June 27, 2016. 
 
Symptoms of the hepatitis A virus include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, dark urine, abdominal pain, vomiting and jaundice. The disease can be transmitted through ingestion of something that has been contaminated, such as food or water.
 
With the latest infection of a food service employee at the ice-cream store Baskin-Robbins, the state department implores getting vaccinated if you believed you were exposed. “The source of this outbreak has still not been determined. In the meantime, we encourage all persons [to] consider and talk to their healthcare provider about getting vaccinated,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park.
 
Any customer of Baskin Robbins between June 17 and July 3, 2016 may have been exposed to the disease. The department encourages that unvaccinated individuals contact their healthcare providers.
 
“This case demonstrates the potential to spread hepatitis A virus to many others who remain susceptible. In an effort to stem the spread of disease, individuals, including food service employees, exhibiting symptoms of hepatitis A infection should stay home and contact their healthcare provider” said Dr. Park.  The source of the outbreak has not been determined.
 
The best defense against the virus is a full, two-dose series of the hepatitis A vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although Hawaii currently requires babies born today to be vaccinated, a religious exemption and other factors are acceptable. “Hepatitis A infection is a vaccine-preventable disease, and fortunately, most children and adolescents have been vaccinated as part of routine childhood vaccination recommendations,” said Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler. “However, many adults have not been vaccinated and remain susceptible.”
 
 
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