All About Richland

Hepatitis A Outbreak Continues To Concern State Officials; Has Local Impact

14 May , 2019  

The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and affected local health departments are investigating an increased number of hepatitis A cases in Ohio.

This includes a number of cases in Richland County.

ODH has declared a statewide community outbreak of hepatitis A after observing an increase in cases linked to certain risk factors since the beginning of 2018.  Outbreaks of hepatitis A are occurring 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
  • Men who have sex with men
  • 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

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.

People who believe that they are at high risk for hepatitis A infection should contact their healthcare provider or local health department for information about vaccination.  People who know that they have been exposed to someone with hepatitis A should contact their healthcare provider or local health department to discuss post-exposure vaccination options.  Individuals who experience symptoms of hepatitis A should contact their healthcare provider.

According to statistics released by the Ohio Department of Health on Monday, Richland County has had 5 Hepatitis A cases in that period, as compared to none in Ashland, Crawford, and Huron Counties, 7 in Knox County, and 13 in Morrow County.

Additional numbers reported on Monday:

  • Age range: 1-84 years
  • Gender: 60% male
  • Number of hospitalizations: 1377 (61%)
  • Number of deaths: 7
  • Number of counties with cases: 76 (86%)

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