Auglaize County Health Department Urges Vaccines, Hand-Washing During Hepatitis A Outbreak

Staff Writer

The Auglaize County Health Department urged county residents succeptible to Hepatitis A  to get vaccinated this week.

The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) has declared a statewide community outbreak of hepatitis A. As of June 22, 2018, Ohio was reporting 79 hepatitis A cases associated with the outbreak. Since then, Preble County has confirmed a case of hepatitis A in a food service worker in Eaton, Ohio.

Hepatitis A outbreaks are occurring in a number of states across the United States including but not limited to Indiana (138 cases), Kentucky (761 cases), Michigan (843 cases) and West Virginia (248 cases). Several of Ohio’s hepatitis A cases have been linked to these outbreaks.

Hepatitis A is a preventable liver disease that usually spreads from person to person by “fecal-oral” route – even in microscopic amounts. This can come from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by the stool of an infected person. Hepatitis A can also be spread from an infected person from close personal contact such as through sex.

“Good hand-washing and vaccination are the best ways to prevent hepatitis A in at-risk individuals,” said Sietske de Fijter, state epidemiologist and chief of the ODH Bureau of Infectious Diseases. “If you or someone you know has one or more risk factors for hepatitis A, call your local health department to see about getting vaccinated.”

People who have increased risk for hepatitis A include those who have come in contact with individuals infected with the virus; travelers to countries where the virus is common; men who have sex with men; people who use street drugs; people with blood clotting disorders; people with chronic liver disease; and household members with adopted children newly arrived from countries where hepatitis A is common.

People usually get sick from hepatitis A an average of two to six weeks from exposure to symptoms. Symptoms include fatigue, nausea, low appetite, stomach pain, fever, abdominal cramps, dark colored urine, clay-colored stools and jaundice (a yellow color to the eyes or skin).

Persons suspecting they may be symptomatic should contact their health care provider. Persons working as food handlers who may be symptomatic should not work and should be seen by a health care provider.

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