Ohio state health officials declared a hepatitis A outbreak over the summer after observing an increase in cases linked to certain risk factors since the beginning of 2018.
Since the declaration, the number of outbreak cases has nearly hit 1000. According to The Ohio Department of Health (ODH), 971 outbreak cases have been reported to date. One death has been reported.
Sixty-four percent of the cases required hospitalization.
Forty-four percent of the cases were reported in three counties (Butler, Montgomery and Hamilton) in the southwestern part of the state. Two-thirds of the counties have been affected by the outbreak.
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.
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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
- 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.