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West Virginia Hepatitis A outbreak exceeds 100 cases



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West Virginia's health authorities have reported an increase in the number of confirmed cases of acute hepatitis A virus since March.

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

As of May 1

8, 106 cases (98 confirmed, 3 likely, 5 suspects) were seen. Three quarters of the cases required hospitalization and no deaths were reported.

Most (87%) of these cases occurred in Kanawha (59) and Putnam (28), with Cabell at 10 and Boone, Jackson Lincoln, Wayne and Wyoming each having fewer than five cases.

This increase in cases was primarily for IV and non-IV drug users, homeless or transient individuals, those who were recently detained and co-infected with hepatitis C. Viral sequencing has multiple outbreaks in Kentucky and California

Hepatitis A virus is excreted from the body through stool. It can live on surfaces for months. People can get hepatitis A from close personal contact with someone who suffers from the disease or encounters food or surfaces and even takes microscopic particles of contaminated human waste

  Hepatitis A Vaccine Image / National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Hepatitis A vaccine
Image / National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Hepatitis A can cause liver inflammation. A person with hepatitis A is considered contagious two weeks before and one week after onset of symptoms. Most adults have symptoms such as yellowing of the skin or eyes, upper abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Persons suffering from the disease may also experience loss of appetite, tiredness, dark (tea-colored) urine, pale stools, headaches or fever. In some cases deaths have been reported.

People may experience mild to severe symptoms. When the acute phase of the disease is over, a person becomes immune. People with underlying health conditions, especially those with chronic liver diseases such as alcohol cirrhosis, hepatitis B and hepatitis C, may require hospitalization

People who suffer from hepatitis symptoms should notify their health care providers. Seek medical help immediately if you suspect that you have come into contact with someone who may have hepatitis A.

Vaccination is the best way to prevent hepatitis A infection. Children are now routinely vaccinated against hepatitis A. A two-dose hepatitis A vaccine series is available for adults. Contact the Health Department to schedule a post-exposure vaccination. A dose of hepatitis A vaccine given within two weeks can help prevent contact.


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