Ohio state health officials declared a statewide community outbreak of hepatitis A after observing an increase in cases linked to certain risk factors since the beginning of 2018.
To date, 79 outbreak cases have been reported, including 58 people requiring hospitalization in two dozen counties. Montgomery, Lawrence and Lucas counties have reported the most cases with 17, 12 and 10, respectively.
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 can also be spread from close personal contact with an infected person, such as through sex.
People at increased risk for hepatitis A in this outbreak include: People with direct contact with individuals infected with the virus, men who have sex with men, people who use street drugs whether they are injected or not, people who are incarcerated, people experiencing homelessness and people who have traveled to other areas of the U.S. currently experiencing outbreaks.
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 severe illness lasting several months.
People who believe that they are at high risk for hepatitis A infection should contact their healthcare provider or local health department for information about vaccination. People who know that they have been exposed to someone with hepatitis A should contact their healthcare provider or local health department to discuss post-exposure vaccination options. Individuals who experience symptoms of hepatitis A should contact their healthcare provider.