June 27, 2018
Health Alert – Hepatitis A
On June 22, 2018, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) declared a statewide community outbreak of Hepatitis A and urged those with certain risk factors to get vaccinated. Since January 1, 2018, there have been 82 hepatitis A cases throughout Ohio, which is almost double the number of cases reported in 2017. Hepatitis A outbreaks are occurring in several states across the U.S. including Indiana, Michigan, Kentucky, and West Virginia. Many of the Ohio cases are linked to outbreaks in these states. At this time, there have been NO reported cases of Hepatitis A in Holmes County in 2018, however, the Holmes County General Health District is closely monitoring the situation and will follow the guidance provided by the ODH should any cases be reported.
Hepatitis A is a vaccine preventable liver disease which is usually spread when a person ingests fecal matter from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by the stool of an infected person. Hepatitis A can also spread through close personal contact, such as through sex. Good handwashing and vaccination are the best ways to prevent hepatitis A in at risk individuals.
Symptoms of hepatitis A include fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, clay-colored stools and jaundice. People with hepatitis A can experience mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months.
People at increased risk for hepatitis A include those who have direct contact with individuals infected with the virus; travelers to countries where the virus is prevalent; men who have sex with men; people who use street drugs whether they are injected or not; people with blood clotting factor disorders; people with chronic liver disease; and household members and other close contacts of adopted children newly arrived from countries where hepatitis A is common. Ohio’s hepatitis A outbreak cases appear to be primarily among people who use illegal drugs, those who have been incarcerated, people who have had contact with known cases; those also infected with hepatitis C, men who have sex with men, and people experiencing homelessness.
If you or someone you know may be at risk of getting Hepatitis A, please contact us at 330-674-5035. The Holmes County General Health District offers the hepatitis A vaccination for adults and children. The cost for the adult vaccine is $75 and the children’s vaccine is offered for free with a donation.