Arizona state health officials report 353 hepatitis A outbreak cases since November 2018. May 2019 was the hardest hit month to date with 86 cases.
Eight out of 10 cases required hospital treatment and two died.
About half the cases had the risk factors of homelessness and drug use, while 27 percent had drug use only as a risk factor.
Health officials say if you are experiencing homelessness, have unstable housing, use illicit drugs get your hepatitis A vaccine. Check out vaccinefinder.org to find out where you can get vaccinated.
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 the virus is taken in by mouth from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by the feces or stool of an infected person. A person can get hepatitis A through:
- Person to person contact
- when an infected person does not wash his or her hands properly after going to the bathroom and touches other objects or food
- when a parent or caregiver does not properly wash his or her hands after changing diapers or cleaning up the stool of an infected person
- when someone has sex or sexual contact with an infected person. (not limited to anal-oral contact)
- Contaminated food or water
Hepatitis A can be spread by eating or drinking food or water contaminated with the virus. (This can include frozen or undercooked food.) This is more likely to occur in countries where hepatitis A is common and in areas where there are poor sanitary conditions or poor personal hygiene. The food and drinks most likely to be contaminated are fruits, vegetables, shellfish, ice, and water. In the United States, chlorination of water kills hepatitis A virus that enters the water supply.