The Hawaiian state investigates the emergence of several hepatitis A cases in Oahu Island.
At least 12 adults had been already diagnosed with hepatitis A in the last two weeks, out of which six demanded hospitalization.
The hepatitis A virus usually spreads through water, food and close personal contact. The infection causes an inflammation of the liver that can be easily treated if the symptoms are brought to medical attention on time.
“Hepatitis A infection is a vaccine-preventable disease, and fortunately, most children and adolescents have been vaccinated as part of routine childhood vaccination recommendations. However, many adults have not been vaccinated and remain susceptible,” said Dr. Virginia Pressler, state health director.
Hepatitis A can cause fatigue, fever, diarrhea, loss of appetite, dark urine, and yellow skin. The virus has a long incubation period. Thus, the signs can appear as far as 50 days after the contamination, and they last for several weeks.
Persons that were contaminated with the virus are contagious two weeks before the apparition of the symptoms and one week after the start of first symptoms.
People are advised to search immediate medical advice in case they have the symptoms mentioned above. Because of the long period of incubation, doctors prefer not to test individuals that do not show any symptoms fearing they will obtain a false positive result.
The treatment is simple. Most cases can be healed with no other medical complication.
Hepatitis A is a vaccine preventable medical condition. Most of the children had been vaccinated as a routine childhood recommendation. However, the adolescents, adults and kids that were not vaccinated are susceptible to get the disease.
The vaccine needs to be done in two stages, the second dose at six months time from the first one. People who had been vaccinated or who already had the disease in the past are already protected from and do not need any other preventive action, as their organisms have developed antibodies that are active for life.
The state officials recommend the population to verify their immunization records and to ask vaccination from their health-care providers.
The disease spread can be controlled by washing the hands with soap and water. Also, medical experts recommend cooking at high temperatures, which could kill the virus.
The Department of Health performs food safety inspections in restaurants in order to verify the quality of ingredients and to protect consumers from any infections.
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