Understanding Hepatitis A

Clark County still seeing 2 new hepatitis A cases a week

Clark County health officials are still seeing about two new cases of hepatitis A every week as the statewide outbreak nears its one-year mark and the state makes new funds available for public health departments.

As of June 3, there have been 2,997 confirmed cases in Ohio since the statewide outbreak was declared last June, with patients ranging from one-year-old to 89-years-old. Those cases include 71 confirmed cases in Clark County and two people have died.

» READ MORE: Clark County flu cases surge as officials warn flu season isn’t over

In Champaign County, there have been eight cases confirmed with no deaths.

Clark County has spent about $52,000 in personnel and supplies trying to combat the Hep A outbreak, Clark County Combined Health District spokeswoman Emma Smales said.

“(That’s) not including vaccines which are either provided by the state or we bill insurance for it,” she said.

Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable liver disease that usually spreads when a person ingests fecal matter with the virus — 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.

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.

Ohio Department of Health declared a statewide hepatitis A outbreak in June 2018 with outbreaks also in several states across the U.S., including neighboring states of Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and West Virginia.

» READ MORE: Clark County health officials warn of local flu spike

Montgomery and Butler counties have the highest case counts in the state, with 408 confirmed cases since the start of the outbreak in Butler and 283 in Montgomery as of June 3, according to Ohio Department of Health.

Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton recently announced a one-time commitment of $650,000 in state funding to be shared with local health departments to combat the ongoing hepatitis A outbreak in the state.

“It’s a new day in public health in Ohio as these funds are targeted to help local health departments prevent and control hepatitis A through education, surveillance, and vaccination of high-risk groups in our state,” Acton said in a statement. “We must work together at the state and local level to protect and improve the health of all Ohioans.”

Vaccination is the best protection against the spread of hepatitis A and public health departments have been bringing vaccine services off-site to populations at high risk of the virus, such as people who are homeless or incarcerated.

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