A Hepatitis A outbreak continues to expand in Clark County, Nevada.
According to the Southern Nevada Health District, 83 cases (up from 37 reported in June) have been reported since the start of this year.
Drugs and homelessness have contributed to the outbreak but it can be spread by eating contaminated food.
Per the CDC, 23,978 cases, with 14,300 hospitalizations have been reported in multiple states including Ohio, Tennessee, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Florida and Arizona to name a few. According to the CDC, California and Utah have declared their outbreaks’ over. 236 deaths have been reported since the outbreak began in 2016.
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
- Abdominal Pain
- Dark Urine
- Joint Pain
- 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.