In an effort to limit the spread of Hep-A, Montgomery County public health officials are traveling to places where the risk is high and are vaccinating people, the agency said during a press conference Thursday afternoon.
So far, they’ve vaccinated 1,752 people are remote locations and 394 people who have come into their offices, officials said.
The first death from Hepatitis A in Ohio in 2018 was a Montgomery County resident, according to Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County.
Public Health said in a statement that the agency is urging people to get vaccinated since they are seeing a large increase in the number of Hepatitis A cases in Montgomery County and Ohio.
“The best way to prevent Hepatitis A is to get vaccinated,” stated Dr. Michael Dohn, medical director at Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County. “Proper and frequent hand washing is also a key factor in controlling the spread of disease.”
There have been 113 cases of Hepatitis A in Montgomery County and 666 in Ohio as of Oct. 15.
No cases were reported in Montgomery County in 2016 while one case was reported in 2017.
For 2012 to 2016, the median number of annual Ohio hepatitis A cases was 38 cases.
Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable liver disease that usually spreads when a person ingests fecal matter from contact with objects, food or drinks contaminated by the stool of someone who is infected, Public Health officials said. It can also spread from close personal contact with someone who is infected, such as through sex.
The Ohio Department of Health reported in the spring that cases were rising and in June declared a statewide outbreak.
The highest case counts are in Montgomery and Butler counties.
People who work in restaurants are urged to receive a Hepatitis A vaccination.
Symptoms include fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, light-colored stool and jaundice. Most affected feel sick for several months, recover and do not have lasting liver damage.
Hepatitis A can cause liver failure and death but is a rare occurrence that happens more commonly in people over 50-years-old and those with liver diseases, according to Public Health.
Who is at greater risk for Hepatitis A?
- People who use street drugs whether they are injected or not
- People who are incarcerated
- People experiencing homelessness
- Men who have sex with men
- People with direct contact with those infected with the virus
- People who have traveled to other areas of the U.S. currently experiencing outbreaks
People who know they have been exposed to someone with Hepatitis A should contact their health care provider or Public Health. Those who have experienced symptoms should contact their health care provider.
Anyone concerned about Hepatitis A is encouraged to reach out to their healthcare provider, pharmacy or Public Health.