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article imageHawaii has 135 confirmed cases of Hepatitis A — 39 hospitalized

By Karen Graham     Aug 4, 2016 in Health
The Hawaii State Department of Health issued an update Wednesday on the current Hepatitis A outbreak that seems to be centered on the island of Oahu. There are now 135 confirmed cases of the disease, and 39 people have been hospitalized.
Since the last update, one week ago, 42 new cases have been added. The onset of illness ranges from June 12 to July 24, with all the cases being adults. This is the largest outbreak the islands have seen in decades, says the health department.
While the majority of the cases seem to center on the island of Oahu, seven of those who have been sickened live on other islands and one visitor who was taken ill has returned to the mainland. The source of the illness remains unclear at this time.
Victims of the disease now include a food service employee at a Chili’s restaurant on Oahu and a Hawaiian Airlines flight attendant. In both of these cases, the restaurant and airline have been ruled out as a source of the infection, says the state health department.
The last outbreak of Hepatitis A in the United States occurred in 2013 and was traced to frozen pomegranate seeds from Turkey. In that outbreak, 165 people were affected, with eight cases occurring in Hawaii, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In 2014, the last year for which figures are available, the CDC says a total of 1,239 cases of Hepatitis A were reported in the U.S. Hepatitis A is found in the stool of persons infected with the virus.
Hepatitis A is usually spread by eating contaminated food or drinking water, and can be spread through close personal or sexual contact. Persons living in the same household as an infected family member can get the disease.
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