- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 13, 2016

HONOLULU (AP) - Patrons of a Baskin-Robbins ice cream store on Oahu may have been exposed to the hepatitis A virus by an infected employee, state health officials said.

The latest case confirmed Tuesday brings the total number of recent hepatitis A cases on Oahu to 52.

The state Department of Health is encouraging unvaccinated people who consumed food or drink products from the Waikele Center ice cream store between June 17 and July 3 to contact their health care providers. A vaccine may provide some protection against the disease if administered within the first two weeks of exposure, according to the department.

State epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park said the Waikele business is not at fault.

“This could happen to any food establishment out there,” she told KHON-TV.

Officials have yet to determine the source of the outbreak, which has resulted in 16 hospitalizations. Park has said that accurately recalling all of the food consumed and locations visited during the infection period is challenging, especially for those who are still feeling ill.

Health officials say the virus can be spread by eating contaminated food, drinking contaminated water, close personal contact or sex. Symptoms include fever, fatigue, appetite loss, abdominal discomfort and diarrhea.

Frequent handwashing can help prevent the spread of the virus.

The department said last week that there were 31 confirmed cases of hepatitis A on Oahu.

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