Philly’s Hepatitis Problem; Addicts, Homeless, Gay Men

“Those who inject illicit drugs, the homeless, and men who have sex with men” – Pennsylvania officials declared an outbreak of hepatitis A, citing 171 cases in 36 counties, including Philadelphia.

The declaration makes Pennsylvania eligible for federal funds to purchase additional doses of a vaccine against the liver disease, whose symptoms can include vomiting and jaundice.

The vaccine would be targeted at groups considered at high risk of exposure: those who inject illicit drugs, the homeless, and men who have sex with men.

The announcement was made by Secretary of Health Rachel Levine in consultation with the state epidemiologist, Sharon Watkins.

The immediate focus is on administering the hepatitis A vaccine to members of the groups at highest risk.

Hepatitis A is typically transmitted through contact with feces, and thus is often spread when food and water are prepared in unsanitary conditions. But the current Pennsylvania outbreak has not been tied to food.

“It’s hard to know for sure why we are experiencing an outbreak of hepatitis A,” Levine said in a news release.

[It is also hard to know for sure why Dr. Levine is unable to annunciate the clear cause of the outbreak; it’s due to increases in those who inject illicit drugs (formerly known as addicts), the homeless, and men who have sex with men (FKA homosexuals) – the negative consequences of all of which a state secretary of health should be actively trying to reduce. – Editor] 

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