Hepatitis Kills 5; State Residents Age 2-81 Warned

IMAGE: Richard Allaway, CC BY 2.0

Outbreak declared state wide

| The Dept. of Health has declared a statewide community outbreak of hepatitis A.

The alert was issued across the state of Ohio after officials observed an increase in cases of hepatitis A since the beginning of 2018.

As of Feb. 11, the number of cases has reached 1,657 across 68 of Ohio’s 88 counties, resulting in five deaths and over 1,000 hospitalizations.

Similar outbreaks are taking place in several states across the U.S.

Ohio officials said the data shows an age range is 2-81 years old and gender is 60 percent male [well, that narrows it down – Editor].

The disease can be spread through eating or drinking contaminated food. Food can get contaminated if a person who has the virus does not wash his or her hands properly after using the bathroom. Read more. 

[In addition, “Outbreaks of hepatitis A have been and are occurring among men who have sex with men in several different US cities.” Source: CDC, Sep 24, 2018 – Editor]

Hepatitis A Outbreaks Continue to Burden States

U.S. News & World Report

Health officials have identified an uptick of hepatitis A cases in Marion County, Ohio, amid outbreaks elsewhere in the state and country in recent months.

The county has investigated 24 cases of the highly contagious liver infection since January 2018, with 14 cases in the last seven weeks alone. Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable illness spread through person-to-person contact, and recent outbreaks have occurred mostly among drug users and those who are homeless.

Across Ohio, health officials have identified 1,531 cases of hepatitis A since the beginning of 2018, with more than 100 cases each in Butler, Franklin, Hamilton and Montgomery counties. Nearly 960 people have been hospitalized and five people have died.

The state’s epidemiologist, Sietske de Fijter, told the Dayton Daily News the number of cases is still rising in parts of the state that weren’t as initially hard-hit and were slow to begin prevention efforts. Those efforts include vaccinating at-risk populations.

“Outbreaks of hepatitis A are occurring in several states across the U.S., including neighboring states of Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and West Virginia,” the Ohio Department of Health said. A total of 16 states have experienced recent outbreaks.

Across the U.S., reported cases of acute hepatitis A fell by about 96 percent between 1996 and 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But cases have picked up in recent years, and the consequences of outbreaks hitting the homeless and drug-using populations have been more dire than usual, health officials say.

“The numbers of hospitalizations and deaths during these hepatitis A outbreaks have been higher than what is normally reported through national surveillance of hepatitis A,” the CDC said.

Routine childhood vaccinations since 1996 have effectively curbed infections among younger people, but older adults who haven’t been immunized remain susceptible to illness. Read more. 

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