The hepatitis A outbreak in Hawaii that has been occurring since spring 2016 continues to grow. As of September 28, 2016, there are 282 people sick in this outbreak.

The growth in the outbreak has slowed, but new cases are diagnosed every week. All of the cases so far have been in adults. Seventy-one people have been hospitalized because their illness is so serious.

Officials at the Hawaii State Department of Health linked the outbreak to frozen raw scallops that were imported from the Philippines and served at Genki Sushi restaurants on the islands of Oahu and Kauai. The product, which was recalled, is Sea Port Bay Scallops (Wild Harvest, Raw Frozen) that were distributed by Koha Oriental Foods. The scallops were embargoed by the state.

Because the incubation period of this illness can be up to 50 days, primary infections will most likely continue to be diagnosed until early October. And secondary infections from people who are sick could continue for some time after that.

The typical incubation period for hepatitis A illnesses is about 15 days after exposure to the virus. And unfortunately, people are contagious for two weeks before they even feel sick or start showing symptoms, which means the illness is easily transmitted from person to person and through contaminated food and drink.

Hepatitis A Virus
This virus enters an organism by ingestion of water and food contaminated by human feces, and reaches the liver through the bloodstream.

In addition to the scallops served at Genki Sushis restaurants, employees at five restaurants on Oahu and Hawaiian Airlines have been diagnosed with the illness. The state of Hawaii stresses that there are no illnesses linked to these businesses and that the outbreak is not connected to them in any way. But, anyone who ate or drank at those establishments during the time that the infected employee was working is at risk, however minor, for the illness.

Ill employees at Harbor Restaurant at Pier 38 in Honolulu, Oahu; Ohana Seafood at Sam’s Club in Pearl City, Oahu; and Chart House Restaurant in Waikiki in Oahu worked at those places in September 2016. Their last dates of employment before diagnosis were September 11 and September 12. People who ate food or drank beverages there during those dates are at risk for developing the illness for 50 days.

Our law firm is investigating this outbreak. Anyone who was sickened may have the right to sue for compensation.

The symptoms of hepatitis A include jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin), weight loss, fatigue, fever, joint pain, loss of appetite, clay colored stools, and dark urine. Some people may be sick for months, and this illness can cause serious complications in anyone who has liver disease, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems.

Since the virus is spread by the fecal-oral route, proper hygiene is critical to stopping the spread of this illness. Thorough hand washing with soap and water is the best way to remove the virus.

If you were sickened in this outbreak, contact our experienced food safety lawyers for a free consultation to protect your legal rights. This infection can cause long term illness and complications. Find out if you have a case and contact us today.