Understanding Hepatitis A

Clark, Champaign cases of hep A part of state outbreak

More hepatitis A cases have been reported in Clark and Champaign counties as part of a statewide outbreak.

There have been five confirmed cases in Clark County as of Nov. 19 and one in Champaign County.

The median number of annual hepatitis A cases recorded in Ohio was 38 cases for 2012 to 2016. But this year’s case count has climbed to 919 in Ohio as of Nov. 19, ranging from a 3-year-old to an 81-year-old, according to Ohio Department of Health.

Butler County has the highest concentration of cases, with 169 reported.

The viral liver disease spreads when a person ingests fecal matter from an infected person.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Ohio has announced a statewide hepatitis A outbreak. Here’s what’s happening in Clark County.

Ingesting a microscopic amount of infected fecal matter can spread hepatitis A, and good hygiene reduces its spread. There are also vaccines available at Clark County Combined Health District.

There has been one death recorded in Montgomery County as part of the outbreak and about 64 percent of people with recorded cases have been hospitalized.

People who are at high risk of contracting the virus 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

MORE: Hepatitis A cases surge in two area counties

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 know that they have been exposed to someone with hepatitis A should contact their provider or local health department to discuss post-exposure vaccination options.

The virus is vaccine preventable and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the hepatitis A vaccine for all children at age 1 and for at-risk individuals. Health care providers, retail pharmacies and clinics, and local health departments can provide vaccinations.

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