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Hepatitis A outbreak in Ohio: What’s really going on?

Published: Monday, June 25, 2018 @ 11:41 AM

Thirty one cases have been reported in Ohio.

COLUMBUS — The Ohio Department of Health  declared a statewide community outbreak of hepatitis A Friday evening, with 79 hepatitis A cases associated with the outbreak so far this year.

As of June 1, there were 11 cases of hepatitis A in Montgomery County. In 2017 there was one case, and none were reported in 2016, Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County reported. Here are questions answered for you about the hepatitis A outbreak in Ohio:

» UNMATCHED COVERAGE: Ohio among states battling sudden rise in Hepatitis A cases

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1. What is hepatitis A? 

Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable liver disease that usually spreads when a person ingests fecal matter — even in microscopic amounts — from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by the stool of an infected person. Hepatitis A also can spread from close personal contact with an infected person, such as through sex, according to the ODH.

2. What are the symptoms of hepatitis A? 

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.

» WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: As nearby states battle hepatitis A outbreaks, is Ohio next?

3. How can you prevent the spread of hepatitis A? 

“Good hand-washing and vaccination are the best ways to prevent hepatitis A in at-risk individuals,” said Sietske de Fijter, state epidemiologist and chief of the ODH Bureau of Infectious Diseases. “If you or someone you know has one or more risk factors for hepatitis A, call your local health department to see about getting vaccinated.”

ODH has provided more than 5,000 doses of hepatitis A vaccine to local health departments.

4. How does contact occur with hepatitis A? 

According to Greene County Public Health, hepatitis A contact can occur by:

• eating food made by an infected person who did not wash his or her hands after using the bathroom

• drinking untreated water or eating food washed in untreated water

• placing a finger or an object in your mouth that came into contact with an infected person’s stool

• having close personal contact with an infected person, such as through sex or caring for someone who is ill

5. Who is at increased risk for acquiring hepatitis A?

• Persons with direct contact with persons who have hepatitis A

• Travelers to countries with high or intermediate rates of hepatitis A

• Men who have sex with men

• Users of injection and non-injection drugs

• Persons with clotting factor disorders

• Household members and other close contacts of adopted children newly arriving from countries with high or intermediate hepatitis rates.

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