Tennessee is one of some 16 states that are dealing with an outbreak of hepatitis A that have occurred primarily among persons who use injection and non-injection drugs, and/or persons who are homeless, and their close direct contacts.
According to the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH), 841 outbreak cases have been reported since Dec. 2017. This is double the number of cases reported just a few months ago in November. Over the last five years, Tennessee has seen an average of 13 cases per year, often associated with travel to countries where hepatitis A is common.
To date, three fatalities have been reported and two-thirds of the total cases required hospitalization for their illness.
The Mid-Cumberland (317), Nashville-Davidson (183) and the Chattanooga-Hamilton (96) regions has seen the most outbreak cases.
Health officials say the hepatitis A vaccine is extremely effective. The first dose of the two dose series will protect most people for several years. The two dose series is all that is needed for a lifetime; it does not require booster doses. Hepatitis A vaccine is routinely recommended for certain groups even in the absence of an outbreak including the following:
- All children at age 1 year
- Travelers to countries that have high rates of hepatitis A
- Family members and caregivers of recent adoptees from countries where hepatitis A is common
- Men who have sexual contact with other men
- People who use recreational drugs, whether injected or not
- People with chronic (lifelong) liver diseases, such as hepatitis B or hepatitis C
- People who are treated with clotting-factor concentrates
- People who work with hepatitis A infected animals or in a hepatitis A research laboratory