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Hepatitis A Confirmed in Taco Bell Waipiʻo Employee

Posted July 16, 2016, 07:33 AM HST
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The Hawaiʻi State Department of Health has confirmed a new case of hepatitis A infection in a food service employee who worked at the Taco Bell fast food restaurant on ʻŪkeʻe Street in Waipiʻo on the island of Oʻahu.

The department is advising individuals who consumed any food or drink products from that location between June 16 and July 11, 2016 (actual dates: June 16, 17, 20, 21, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30, and July 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, and 11) that they may have been exposed to the disease.

Hepatitis virons. Author: Dr. Erskine Palmer, USCDCP

Hepatitis virons. Author: Dr. Erskine Palmer, USCDCP

Health officials advise that individuals who were not vaccinated, should contact their healthcare providers about the possibility of receiving a hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin, which health officials say, may provide some protection against the disease if administered within the first two weeks after exposure.

“It is important to note that neither the Waikele Baskin-Robbins nor the Waipiʻo Taco Bell have been identified as the source of infection for this outbreak,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park.

“These are merely places where the victims were employed. The likelihood that patrons of these food establishments will become infected is very low, but to prevent possible additional cases, we are notifying the public so they may seek advice and help from their healthcare providers,” said Dr. Park.

Additional food service establishments may be affected as the number of cases continues to grow, health officials advised.

The department advises that Individuals, including food service employees, exhibiting symptoms of hepatitis A should stay home and contact their healthcare provider. All food service employees should strictly adhere to good hand washing and food handling practices, health officials advised.

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Symptoms of hepatitis A infection include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, diarrhea, and yellow skin and eyes, according to health officials.

“While vaccination provides the best protection, frequent hand washing 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,” the health department stated.

Since the last update, HDOH has identified 21 new cases of hepatitis A.  All cases have been in adults on Oʻahu, and 16 have required hospitalization.  As of July 12, 2016 there have been a total of 52 confirmed cases of Hepatitis A, with the onset of illness ranging between June 12 and July 3, 2016.

Additional information about hepatitis A can be found on the DOH website.

Places of interest:

Establishment Location Dates of Service
Baskin-Robbins Waikele Center June 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 25, 27, 30, and July 1 and 3, 2016
Taco Bell Waipio (94-790 Ukee Street) June 16, 17, 20, 21, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30, and July 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, and 11, 2016
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