Two people infected with a strain of Hepatitis A traced to frozen Philippine scallops served raw at Genki Sushi restaurants in Hawaii have died.
The Hawaii Department of Health confirmed the two deaths last week. One of the deaths is not directly attributed to the Hepatitis A infection because that person had already been classified as terminally ill and was receiving hospice care.
The other victim was a woman in her 60s who contracted the outbreak strain of the virus found in the contaminated scallops. The woman developed liver failure and was unable to receive a liver transplant. Her death of complications from liver failure was reported to Hawaiian health authorities earlier this week. An attorney representing the woman’s family and others who were sickened told Hawaii News Now that the victim had eaten scallops at a Genki Sushi location in July.
The first hepatitis A infection associated with the Hawaii outbreak was reported on June 12. Hawaiian health officials finally pinpointed the source of the outbreak on Aug. 15 to frozen Sea Port Bay Scallops produced by Filipino company De Oro Resources Inc. and imported by Sea Port Products Inc. in Washington State.
The outbreak is the largest Hepatitis A outbreak in Hawaii’s history, infecting at least 291 people, including 73 who required hospitalization.
The hepatitis A virus causes the liver to swell and prevents it from functioning properly. Symptoms include fatigue, nausea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, and fever. Some people may also experience joint or muscle pain, diarrhea, vomiting, dark urine, itching, weight loss, or yellow skin and eyes.
The virus is highly contagious and extremely hardy. It is able to survive freezing temperatures as well as the body’s highly acidic digestive tract. Hepatitis A can also survive outside of the body for months, allowing it to be widely spread from its original source.
While the infection and resulting symptoms normally go away on their own, in some cases the disease can lead to liver failure and death.
The Hawaii Department of Health says there have been no new cases reported in a week, a strong indication that the outbreak is past its peak.