Amid drug use, Ohio county reporting rise in hepatitis A cases

Hepatitis epidemic_303956

SUMMIT COUNTY, Ohio (WKBN) – An Ohio county is seeing an outbreak of hepatitis A cases, warning people to get vaccinated. 

Summit County Public Health says getting the vaccines is the most effective way to prevent hepatitis A infection.

Since 2016, viral hepatitis A community outbreaks have been reported in 18 states nationwide. As of March 29, these multiple outbreaks have resulted in 15,000 reported cases, 8,500 hospitalizations and 140 deaths, according to Summit County Public Health.

The Ohio Department of Health declared a statewide outbreak in early 2018, and so far, there have been 2,044 cases, 1,259 hospitalizations and seven deaths in the state, Summit County Health reports. 

Summit County is reporting 32 additional cases of hepatitis A in 2019 — 19 of which have been linked to the nationwide outbreak. 

Locally, hepatitis A was recently reported at Panera Bread’s plant in Warren and last year, there was a confirmed case at Taco Bell in Warren.

Health officials are blaming the use of intravenous drugs for higher rates of the infection. 

Trumbull County reported two additional cases of hepatitis since February 2019 with a total of 15 reported since the beginning of 2018. 

Cases in Mahoning and Columbiana counties are unchanged at 5 and 1 respectively since February 2019. 

Hepatitis A can also be transmitted by contact with contaminated food or drink or by close contact with an infected person. 

Symptoms of hepatitis A include yellow skin or eyes, fatigue, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, dark urine and/or gray-colored stools, joint pain, nausea, vomiting and fever. 

Infected individuals can be sick from a few weeks to several months. Individuals experiencing
these symptoms should seek medical advice immediately.

You can find more information on hepatitis A on Summit County Health’s website.

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