Homeless, Gays, Drug Abusers, Kitchen Workers Fuel Hepatitis Outbreaks

Thousands infected from Michigan to Miami as officials say “try not to panic” 

| Springfield, OH, AP/KDKA – Ohio has logged more than 900 cases of hepatitis A this year amid an outbreak around the state and some neighboring states.

That’s a big jump compared with the past few years. People have been hospitalized in nearly two-thirds of the cases.

There have been 81 cases in Pennsylvania, an 80 percent increase.

Homeless people and those who use street drugs are among those most likely to contract the disease.

Officials recommend guarding against that with a vaccine and good hygiene. Read more. 

907 Cases Of Hepatitis A In Michigan

TRAVERSE CITY — The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services found 907 cases of hepatitis A in Michigan from August 2016 through Nov. 21, 2018.

Twenty-eight people have died and about 80 percent hospitalized because of the virus.

Though outbreaks mainly occur in southeastern Michigan, District Health Department No. 10 Medical Director Jennifer Morse said people should not discount this disease.

“Northern Michigan has been doing well,” Morse said. “The cases we had in our district occurred early this year, but it doesn’t mean it can’t happen. This is a reminder that this is still going on.”

Twelve states are currently experiencing an outbreak.

More cases popped up after the holidays last year. Morse attributed this to people traveling, especially to other countries.

Homeless people, gay men, and drug-users are at an increased risk for hepatitis A, Morse said. Read more. 

Eaten at this celebrity owned Disney World restaurant lately? Try not to panic

On Wednesday evening, the Florida Department of Health in Orange County tweeted that a food service worker at the Morimoto Asia restaurant at Walt Disney World had been infected with hepatitis A, a highly contagious liver infection.

Symptoms include nausea, abdominal pain, jaundice, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and extreme fatigue.

Persons who consumed any food/beverage at restaurant b/w Nov. 6 – 16, 2018, could be exposed to hep A virus & need to be vaccinated.

Health officials advised that patrons who consumed any food or beverages at the eatery in Disney Springs between Nov. 6 and Nov. 16 might have been exposed to the virus. The restaurant is run by Chef Masaharu Morimoto, of “Iron Chef” fame.

If you did eat there, try not to panic: A vaccine may provide protection against the disease if given within two weeks after exposure, say officials.

“Patrons should monitor for symptoms,” a followup DOH-Orange tweet says. “Sudden onset of abdominal discomfort, dark urine, fever, diarrhea, and yellow skin and eyes (jaundice).” Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek medical attention promptly for a shot. Read more. 

Opioids Drive Hep C to More than 2 Million in U.S.

HealthDay News, WebMD – More than 2 million Americans have hepatitis C — and the opioid epidemic is a major contributor to the problem, according to a new government study.

The study, by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, does highlight progress against the potentially fatal liver disease. It also shows how much more work remains, CDC officials said.

Between 2013 and 2016, the agency estimated, nearly 2.4 million Americans had hepatitis C infections.

That’s a small decline from previous years. And the CDC said that may indicate the effects of new therapies that have changed the face of hepatitis C treatment in the past several years.

But it’s also likely that deaths among older Americans with the infection account for part of the decline, the agency added.

And while better treatment may be making a dent in hepatitis C cases, the new figures show that most Americans with the infection had not yet benefited by the end of 2016.

Meanwhile, there are ominous signs when it comes to hepatitis C prevention.

Earlier CDC research found that new hepatitis C cases tripled between 2010 and 2016. Most were traced to injection-drug use among younger adults addicted to heroin and other opioids. Adults under 40 have the highest rate of new infections.

“The opioid crisis is sabotaging our progress against hepatitis C,” said the CDC’s Dr. Jonathan Mermin, who worked on the new study.

Hepatitis C is a viral infection that causes inflammation in the liver. In most cases, the infection becomes chronic. Without treatment, about 15 percent to 30 percent of people with chronic hepatitis C will develop cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver.

These days, most people become infected by sharing injection-drug equipment, said Dr. Judith Feinberg, an infectious disease expert who was not involved in the study. Read more. 


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