PREBLE COUNTY – The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) declared a statewide community outbreak of hepatitis A.
The announcement was made on Friday, June 22.
As of the June 22, there were 79 hepatitis A cases associated with this outbreak in 2018.
As of June 22, there were three cases of hepatitis A in Preble County. In 2017 there were zero cases, and one was reported in 2016, Preble County Public Health reported.
Here are questions answered for you about the hepatitis A outbreak in Ohio:
1. What is hepatitis A?
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 also can spread from close personal contact with an infected person, such as through sex, according to the ODH.
2. What are the symptoms of hepatitis A?
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 a severe illness lasting several months.
3. How does contact occur with hepatitis A?
According to Preble County Public Health, hepatitis A contact can occur by:
eating food made by an infected person who did not wash his or her hands after using the bathroom
drinking untreated water or eating food washed in untreated water
placing a finger or an object in your mouth that came into contact with an infected person’s stool
having close personal contact with an infected person, such as through sex or caring for someone who is ill
4. Who is at increased risk for acquiring hepatitis A?
Persons with direct contact with persons who have hepatitis A
Travelers to countries with high or intermediate rates of hepatitis A
Men who have sex with men
Users of injection and non-injection drugs
Persons with clotting factor disorders
Household members and other close contacts of adopted children newly arriving from countries with high or intermediate hepatitis rates.
5. How can you prevent the spread of hepatitis A?
“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.”
ODH has provided more than 5,000 doses of hepatitis A vaccine to local health departments including Preble County Public Health.
Go to the PCPH website at www.preblecountyhealth.org for more information about hepatitis A and other immunizations.