NewsDesk @bactiman63

Since 2017, multiple states including Pennsylvania have experienced large, ongoing hepatitis A outbreaks primarily affecting people who use drugs and/or people experiencing homelessness.

Hepatitis A Vaccine
Image/National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Hepatitis A person-to-person transmission continues in 2023, particularly in southeastern PA.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH), in 2023, 46 confirmed hepatitis A cases were reported in PA as of April 8, 2023, with 44 reported in the southeast region.

This includes a preliminary count of 23 confirmed, locally-acquired HAV cases in Philadelphia since January 2023. Among the HAV cases occurring since January, 15 cases (65%) reported current injection and/or non-injection drug use including 8 cases (35%) who were also experiencing homelessness or unstable housing.

DOH is encouraging hepatitis A vaccination for persons experiencing homelessness, persons who use drugs or those who have other risk factors for hepatitis A, such as men who have sex with men (MSM).

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious, vaccine-preventable, liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). Severity of illness ranges from mild infection lasting a few weeks to severe disease lasting several months. Liver failure and death may occur. Hepatitis A usually spreads when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food, or drinks contaminated by undetectable amounts of stool from an infected person. Hepatitis A can also spread from close personal contact with an infected person such as through sex or caring for someone who is ill. Populations at particular risk include persons who use injection and non-injection drugs, persons who are experiencing homelessness, men who have sex with men (MSM), and persons who live in congregate settings such as correctional facilities and drug and alcohol treatment facilities, as well as contacts of people with these risk factors.