December 7, 2019

CDC Tracks the Hepatitis A Outbreaks Across the Country

The CDC is keeping track of the hepatitis A outbreaks across the country that have sickened thousands and killed many Americans.  Since the first outbreak was identified in 2016, 30 states have declared emergencies because of the illnesses in their area.

CDC Tracks the Hepatitis A Outbreaks Across the Country

As of September 6, 2019, there have been 25,484 cases of hepatitis A diagnosed across the country. Of those cases, 15,330 patients, or 60%, have been hospitalized, and 254 people have died.

Hepatitis A is a very contagious virus that attacks the liver. People who are more likely to suffer serious complications from this infection are those with compromised immune systems and chronic illnesses, as well as people with liver disease.

The states with the most cases in these hepatitis A outbreaks are: Florida (2903), Indiana (2059), Kentucky (4879), Ohio (3291), Tennessee (2379), and West Virginia (2547). California and Utah have declared an end to the outbreak in their area.

The CDC is providing ongoing epidemiology and laboratory support, as well as support of vaccine supply and vaccine policy development. The CDC will also send “disease detectives” to affected areas to evaluate and assist in the outbreak response. They are also developing educational materials to support efforts at the state level to contain the outbreak.

While the populations that are most vulnerable to hepatitis A include the homeless, people in prison, people who use drugs, and gay men, hepatitis A affects others as well. Every week, Food Poisoning Bulletin has told you about warnings from restaurants where food service workers have been diagnosed with this illness.

The symptoms of hepatitis A include jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), weight loss, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay colored stools, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and tiredness. These symptom appear 15 to 50 days after exposure. And the time period when a person is most infectious, two weeks before symptoms appear, is when they are asymptomatic and don’t know they are sick.

The best way to prevent this illness is to be vaccinated against the virus. People can also avoid going out of the house when they are sick. And always wash your hands well with soap and water after using the bathroom and before preparing food for others.

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