Hepatitis A outbreak associated with a revolving sushi bar in Chiba, Japan: Application of molecular epidemiology.
ABSTRACT Aim: The number of hepatitis A cases in Japan as well as in other developed countries has been progressively decreasing during the last several years. There is no universal hepatitis A vaccination program in Japan, and a hepatitis A virus (HAV) epidemic in Japan is not unlikely. In 2011, a hepatitis A outbreak associated with a revolving sushi bar occurred in Chiba, Japan. We aimed to analyze this outbreak. Methods: Twenty-seven patients associated with this outbreak were admitted to the National Hospital Organization Chiba Medical Center. Molecular epidemiologic investigations were conducted. Results: Twenty-six of the 27 patients had gone to the same revolving sushi bar, and then clinical symptoms appeared. HAV RNA was detected by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction in 23 of the 27 (85.1%) patients whose sera had tested positive for anti-HAV immunoglobulin M. All isolates from this outbreak were clustered within subgenotype IA, displaying 100% sequence homology with each other in 232 bp from all 23 patients. All isolates belong to the IA-1 sublineage, which is endemic to Japan. Conclusion: A revolving sushi bar was associated with a hepatitis A outbreak, and molecular epidemiological investigations proved useful.