PREBLE COUNTY — There were 38 confirmed cases of hepatitis A in Preble County throughout 2018, which is up 36 cases from 2017, when the area only saw two cases total, according to Preble County Public Health.
To this date, the state of Ohio has a total of 1,438 cases associated with this outbreak.
The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) declared a statewide community outbreak of hepatitis A in mid-2018 after observing an increase in cases linked to certain risk factors since the beginning of 2018. Outbreaks of hepatitis A continue in several states across the U.S., including neighboring states of Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and West Virginia.
Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable liver disease that usually spreads when a person ingests fecal matter – even in microscopic amounts – from contact with objects, food or drinks contaminated by the stool of an infected person. Hepatitis A can also be spread from close personal contact with an infected person, such as through sex.
People at increased risk for hepatitis A in this outbreak include:
● People with direct contact with individuals infected with the virus
● People who use street drugs whether they are injected or not
● People who are incarcerated
● People experiencing homelessness
● People who have traveled to other areas of the U.S. currently experiencing outbreaks
● Men who have sex with men
Symptoms of hepatitis A include fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, clay-colored stools and jaundice. People with hepatitis A can experience mild illness lasting a few weeks to severe illness lasting several months.
What can you do?
1) Get vaccinated
If you think you are at high risk for hepatitis A infection, you can get a vaccine. Call your healthcare provider; visit a pharmacy or contact your local health department. You can call Preble County Public Health at 937-472-0087 to schedule an appointment for your vaccine. Most insurance plans are accepted and there are options for those who are uninsured.
2) Wash your hands
Washing your hands with soap and warm water after using the bathroom and before preparing or eating food can help stop the spread of hepatitis A.
To keep up with other public health-related issues make sure to check out Preble County Public Health online at www.preblecountyhealth.org, through Facebook at www.facebook.com/PrebleCoHealth and on Twitter at @PrebleCoHealth! We are also available Monday through Friday between the hours of 8 a.m.-4 p.m. by phone at 937-472-0087.