Doctor says actual number of hepatitis A cases higher than reported

Health care providers believe there are more cases of hepatitis A on Oahu.

Recent numbers from Hawaii Department of Health hold the numbers of cases of people infected with hepatitis A at 168. Of those cases, 46 had to be hospitalized.

With the epidemic growing, we wanted to know how vaccination efforts are going, and if more people are protecting themselves.

Dr. James Ireland at Queen’s Medical Center – West Oahu says there are people infected with hepatitis A who have a “mild infection” and they don’t get medical care, so they aren’t counted.

That doesn’t include the people visiting the hospitals weekly with hepatitis A-like symptoms.

Ireland says new patients are currently hospitalized throughout Oahu weekly, and explains state data lags behind, so those diagnosed aren’t officially counted until one week later.

He says “expect the numbers to grow.”

The state believes the source came from a food product, but exported in.

Ireland thinks it could also be something locally made.

“That’s what I think. I talked to a few patients here who were infected an two that were actually hospitalized and tried to quiz them, but because you’re asking them what they ate weeks ago, it’s hard to remember,” he said. “Is it something that seems to be local, not consumed on the mainland and, for some reason, not consumed on neighbor islands, because we don’t see it spreading on the neighbor islands unless they were infected here.”

Ireland added, “the good news is more people are coming in for the vaccine.”

Ireland says Queens Medical Center – West Oahu has had more than 2,000 people come in for the vaccination so far.

We’re told there is no shortage of the vaccine.

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