Hepatitis A: Making Headlines with Recent Outbreaks
As the Hepatitis A outbreak continues to spread rapidly across the country, state and local governments along with private medical providers are making efforts to quickly vaccinate those who may have been exposed or are otherwise at high-risk for contracting the disease.
The Hepatitis A virus is usually acquired from food or water that has been contaminated with feces.
In the United States, Hepatitis A outbreaks commonly begin from improper food handling in restaurants and is spread from one infected person to another by close contact through the hands or mouth. Once infected, Hepatitis A attacks the liver. Symptoms include fatigue, sudden nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, fever, clay-colored stool, dark urine, joint pain and jaundice.
So far in 2018, North Carolina, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, and Michigan have all had outbreaks of the disease. States affected by the outbreak are working to ensure there are enough vaccines available for those who may have been exposed and have organized Public Health vaccination clinics. For state specific information, see the CDC’s Health Advisory for News and Updates on the Hepatitis A Outbreak.
The Hepatitis A vaccine did not become widely recommended and administered until the 1990’s, currently leaving many older Americans at risk who have yet to be vaccinated. More can be learned about the Hepatitis A vaccine here.