The Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) and the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) are investigating a hepatitis A outbreak. So far in 2018, Pennsylvania has had 81 hepatitis A cases reported to date which is an 80% increase in cases reported from the same time period in the previous 5 years.

Pennsylvania map/ National Atlas of the United States
Pennsylvania map/ National Atlas of the United States

Allegheny County has had eight cases reported within the past month. The recent cases are located in the southwest portion of Allegheny County.

Concurrently, multiple U.S. states have been experiencing large, ongoing hepatitis A outbreaks affecting people who use drugs and/or people who are homeless, including neighboring states such as Ohio and West Virginia.

California, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia have also reported outbreaks of Hepatitis A virus (HAV) since March 2017.

Given the pattern of significant HAV outbreaks seen in other states involving similar populations, there is concern for additional transmission and morbidity across the state.

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Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV) ranging in severity from mild infection lasting a few weeks to severe disease lasting several months. Hepatitis A usually spreads when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food, or drinks contaminated by small, undetected 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 during the current outbreaks identified in multiple U.S. states include persons who use injection and non-injection drugs, and/or persons who are homeless, and their close direct contacts, as well as men who have sex with men (MSM).

Hepatitis A vaccination is encouraged for the homeless population, persons who report drug use or other risk factors for hepatitis A such as men who have sex with men (MSM).