HONOLULU, Aug. 17 (UPI) — Health officials in Hawaii said they have traced the origin of a recent hepatitis A outbreak to some frozen imported scallops from the Philippines.
The state health department said Wednesday the scallops were distributed by Koha Oriental Foods on the islands of Oahu and Kauai, and were packaged by Sea Port Bay Scallops.
Health officials are advising consumers to stay away from the affected scallops, which were also served raw at Genki Sushi restaurants in Hawaii, the Star Advertiser reported. All 10 Genki restaurants were ordered closed by the health department.
So far, about 170 people have been sickened by the outbreak. Nearly 50 have been hospitalized.
Video: KHON-TV Honolulu
“It looks like the probable cause of this outbreak is imported frozen scallops that were served raw at Genki Sushi restaurants on Oahu and Kauai,” Dr. Virginia Pressler, Hawaii’s health director, said Wednesday. “As soon as we determined that was the probable cause we notified Genki Sushi and asked them to close their Oahu and Kauai restaurants immediately.
“We also embargoed the frozen scallop product so that it wouldn’t be further distributed throughout the state.”
Health officials encouraged anyone in Hawaii who may have eaten the affected scallops to see their physician for the hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin, which can preclude the infection if it’s administered within two weeks of exposure.
Hepatitis A is an infectious disease of the liver. Officials say a person typically does not experience any symptoms of the viral infection for two to six weeks. The disease is more dangerous in elderly individuals, who may suffer liver failure.
The virus is typically spread to humans through infected food, particularly uncooked shellfish.
“Genki Sushi was shocked when we received the order to immediately close our restaurants on Oahu and Kauai,” Mary Hansen, chief administrative officer of Genki, said. “Genki Sushi cares about the public and our customers health and safety.
“We will continue to work with the Department of Health to ensure that we are compliant so that we can open our restaurants as soon as possible.”