Since January 1, 2017, Utah public health has identified 271 confirmed cases of hepatitis A virus (HAV), 111 of the cases were reported this year.

Image/ National Atlas of the United States
Image/ National Atlas of the United States

Many cases are among persons who are homeless and/or using illicit drugs.

Sixty-eight percent of the cases are reported in Salt Lake County, including two deaths, while 17% are reported in Utah County.

138, or 55% of the cases required hospitalization for their illness.

Several cases have been linked by investigation and/or viral sequencing to a national outbreak of hepatitis A involving cases in California and Arizona.

Hepatitis A is usually spread through having oral contact with items contaminated with hepatitis A, for example, through ingesting food or drinks contaminated by infected feces. Some people do not develop symptoms, even if infected. If symptoms occur, they usually appear anywhere from 2-6 weeks after exposure. Symptoms usually develop over a period of several days and may include jaundice (the yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes), abdominal pain, nausea or diarrhea. Hepatitis A vaccination is the best way to prevent hepatitis A infection.