Ohio state health officials declared a hepatitis A outbreak last June and at the time, 79 outbreak cases were reported.
As 2018 came to a close, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) reported 1,311 cases, which included 821 hospitalizations and four fatalities.
Sixty-six of the 88 Ohio counties saw cases in 2018 with Butler (240), Montgomery (180) and Franklin (129) counties reporting the most.
Outbreaks of hepatitis A are occurring in several states across the U.S., including neighboring states of Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and West Virginia.
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
- People who have traveled to other areas of the U.S. currently experiencing outbreaks
Health officials say 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.
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