Since officials in Pima County, AZ reported the hepatitis A outbreak last November, the number of cases continue to rise into 2019.


Since November 1, 2018, there have been 34 cases linked to the outbreak, including 20 since the New Year. 27 of these cases have resulted in hospitalization.

Typically, Pima County reports less than five cases annually.

“As we continue to see cases, we are diligently working to protect the people most vulnerable from becoming infected,” said Deputy County Health Director Paula Mandel. “We are seeing this outbreak hit users of illicit drugs, those trying to quit illicit drugs, and people experiencing homelessness. We want to get the word out that the safe and effective vaccine and good hand hygiene can help protect you.”

“We are taking action to get ahead of this; to stop this infectious disease from continuing to spread,” said Dr. Carlos Perez-Velez, Health Department Deputy Chief Medical Officer. “With the continued support and cooperation of partners throughout the community, we have been able to provide more and more hepatitis A virus vaccinations to the vulnerable residents at high risk.”

Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable infectious disease that can damage the liver. Infected people shed the virus in their stool in high concentrations from two to three weeks before to one week after onset of clinical illness, and thereby spread the virus during this time. They often carry it on poorly washed hands. It spreads to others when they swallow invisible amounts of the virus through food, drink, sexual activity or after touching contaminated objects. While proper hand washing can prevent spread of infection, vaccination provides long-term protection against the virus.