In mid-December, the Louisiana Department of Health declared an outbreak of hepatitis A virus (HAV). At that time, a couple dozen outbreak cases were reported.
Since that time, the number of outbreak hepatitis A cases have about doubled. As of January 18, 2019, Louisiana has 47 reported cases of outbreak HAV infection.
Eight out of 10 patients required hospitalization. Of the 13 parishes affected by the outbreak, Morehouse Parish continue to report the most cases.
This increase in cases mirrors the hepatitis A outbreaks occurring in other states, which are affecting certain risk groups:
- People reporting drug use (injection and non-injection),
- People experiencing homelessness,
- Men who have sex with men,
- Incarcerated or recently incarcerated individuals, and
- People who have been in close contact of someone infected with Hepatitis A.
While HAV infections usually resolve without treatment, illnesses and deaths in the current national outbreaks have been higher than usual due to older age and underlying health conditions, especially chronic liver disease, of people affected.
A single dose of hepatitis A vaccine in previously unvaccinated persons is 95% seroprotective and has been demonstrated to help curb outbreaks.
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