By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

In Philadelphia Thursday, Health Commissioner, Dr. Thomas Farley, declared that the ongoing outbreak of Hepatitis A in Philadelphia is a public health emergency.

To date in 2019, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, Division of Disease Control, has confirmed 154 reports of acute Hepatitis A disease compared to an expected 3 reports as observed between January and July from 2013 to 2017, with the vast majority of the cases having occurred since May (85%).

Preliminary investigations indicate high proportions among adults who report using drugs (67%), or report experiencing homelessness (26%).

Farley has  directed health care providers and governmental and non-governmental agencies to help vaccinate those most at risk for the infection in order to stop the outbreak. As part of the Philadelphia Resilience Project, the City of Philadelphia will be expanding its own outreach to vaccinate homeless persons and others at greatest risk.

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Since July 2018, the Health Department has coordinated the vaccination of 1,775 people considered at-risk, and reports that more than 12,439 total Hepatitis A vaccinations have been given in the city.  Because these efforts have not been sufficient to end the outbreak, the Health Department is mobilizing with this declaration of emergency to vaccinate tens of thousands of additional at-risk folks.

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Dr. Farley said, “We don’t want anyone to contract Hepatitis A, and we have the ability to stop this outbreak. Now that we have a safe and effective vaccine, the most important action we can take is for everyone at high risk to be vaccinated. That means that we need help from health care providers and others who see these persons to offer the vaccine to them.”