Depressing and frustrating. That’s how health officials are describing the state’s hepatitis a outbreak as they struggle to find the source.
New numbers show since last week show 33 more people have become sick with the disease. That brings the total to 168 patients, and 48 of them were hospitalized.
KHON2 also learned, two more food handlers were infected with the disease.
One works at the Papa John’s in Waipahu. The other at New Lin Fong in Chinatown.
Officials are still trying to find the source, and hope a new tool will help.
The Department of Health is rolling out a new tactic to try and stop the spread of Hepatitis A. Along with this new approach health officials are even working with the Centers for Disease Control to try and curb the epidemic.
The health department is trying out an online survey in hopes of connecting the data they have already collected with patterns of where people ate. Dr. Sarah Park, the state epidimiologist says it could be an important step in determining the source of the outbreak, “There’s no reference that we can look to to say that on Oahu this percentage of people go to this restaurant, this percentage goes to that restaurant, this percentage goes to this grocery store.”
According to Dr Park, data from the new survey could help lead her team closer to what product is causing the outbreak. She says more than likely it’s something with a long shelf life, so possibly frozen or non perishable, and it’s likely something imported to the island. “We don’t know where it could’ve come from but we’re assuming it was brought in here because we haven’t seen large cluster of hep a previously that could then lead to more contamination.”
The Department of Health is narrowing down common symptoms found in Hepatitis A patients that it’s interviewed. Dr Park says these symptoms aren’t what doctors usually look for. “We now know that the vast majority of our cases have reported they have suffered fatigue, loss of appetite and dark urine.”Click here for a link to the online survey.