New Mexico state health officials report investigating an outbreak of hepatitis A in Bernalillo County. Four confirmed acute cases in adults have been reported since late October.
To control this outbreak and prevent further spread, New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) recommends the vaccination of people in the affected area experiencing homelessness or those who inject drugs.
“Vaccinating people at risk of exposure is the most effective tool we have to prevent the spread of hepatitis A infection during an outbreak,” said New Mexico Department of Health Secretary Lynn Gallagher.
NMDOH is monitoring the outbreak, providing vaccinations, and providing recommendations to reduce the spread of illness. Handwashing, especially after using the bathroom and before preparing food plays an important role in preventing the spread of the virus.
Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with the hepatitis A virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. Hepatitis A is usually spread when a person ingests fecal matter, even in microscopic amounts, from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by the feces or stool of an infected person.
The risk of hepatitis A infection is associated with poor sanitation and hygiene and is primarily transmitted through direct contact with an infectious person or contaminated food and drink. The current outbreak has primarily impacted people experiencing homelessness and those who inject drugs.
Hepatitis A infection typically causes fever, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, dark urine, and yellowness of the skin and eyes. Those at increased risk for Hepatitis A include:
- Persons with direct contact with a person who has hepatitis A
- Persons who use injection and non-injection drugs
- Persons experiencing homelessness or transient housing
- Men who have sex with men
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