Since 2017 multiple states have declared outbreaks of the Hepatitis A Virus and now the Department of Heath in Ohio (ODH) has declared one as well.
Since the start of 2018, cases in Ohio have risen to 79, double the total number recorded for 2017 in the Buckeye state.
Image from Cleveland.com
WTOL reports: 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.
Per the CDC, the below states have reported the following number of cases:
- California 704 (as of April 11, 2018)
- Indiana 148 (as of June 21, 2018)
- Kentucky 760
- Michigan 846
- Missouri 125
- Utah 109 (2018) and 147 (2017)
- West Virginia 248
- Arkansas 40 since February, 2018
Last year Colorado reported a doubling of Hepatitis A cases since the previous year.
What is Hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is a disease that affects the liver. Its caused by a virus (Hepatitis A virus) that is most commonly ingested. Poor hand washing and/or contaminated food are likely culprits. It’s transmitted by the fecal-oral route, where food or drink contaminated by fecal matter enters another person’s GI tract. Sexual transmission of Hepatitis A has been reported during activities involving oral-anal sex.
Hepatitis A can live outside the body for months, so unclean dining areas can be contaminated and transfer to food.
Those who are immunosuppressed run the risk of dying from the infection.
What are the symptoms of Hepatitis A?
Symptoms of Hepatitis A include:
Jaundice – yellowing of the skin and eyes
Clay – looking stools
Loss of appetite
What is the treatment for Hepatitis A?
There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A. Most hepatitis A infections resolve on their own.
We usually recommend rest, fluids, and offer medications to help with nausea and vomiting.
For liver injury we avoid medications and alcohol that can worsen liver damage. The liver will usually recover within months after hepatitis A infection.
There are vaccines for Hepatitis A included in the childhood vaccination schedule. Those older who weren’t vaccinated as a child can get the vaccine from their local provider or health department. Many states require all health care and food workers to be vaccinated.
The best form of prevention however is good hand washing, dining area hygiene, and cooking food thoroughly.