Frozen scallops that were imported to Hawaii and served raw by Genki Sushi are the “likely source” of an outbreak of hepatitis A, according to the Hawaii Department of Health.

The investigation began on July 1 after a dozen cases were reported in Oahu. The victims developed symptoms in mid-June, which means they could have been infected as early as mid-April.

On August 15, all Genki Sushi restaurants were shut down for cleaning. Health officials reported 168 illnesses, including 46 people who had to be hospitalized.

According to Hawaii Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler:

After determining the strong probable link between the majority of cases, the department immediately notified Genki Sushi Restaurants, ordered the embargo of the frozen scallop product, and the closure of all Oahu and Kauai facilities.”

Anyone who ate at Genki Sushi — especially scallops — should consider asking a doctor about receiving a vaccine or immune globulin (IG). It can take 2-6 weeks for hepatitis A to cause symptoms. If symptoms appear, seek immediate medical attention.

Hepatitis A is a virus that causes inflammation of the liver. People who are infected can feel sick for months. The symptoms include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, pain, and jaundice.

The virus spreads in fecal matter and is very contagious. Outbreaks typically occur when food or water is contaminated, although food-workers who do not wash their hands can also spread the disease.

It is the largest outbreak of hepatitis A in Hawaii in decades, and could become the biggest in U.S. history. The last major outbreak was linked to pomegranate seeds and sickened 168 people in 10 states in 2013.

Source: Hawaii Department of Health

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