The Hepatitis A epidemic in Ohio is spreading like wildfire, and a recently confirmed case in Clark County is an example of how the disease has permeated outside previously specified at-risk groups.
The Clark County Combined Health District said the uptick in confirmed cases is alarming.
“We went from 2011 until 2018 with zero cases of Hepatitis A and we have 44 now,” said Health Commissioner Charles Patterson. “We’ve had about 30 news cases in the last three months. In the last couple of days, we’re almost getting a new case every day.”
The health district has been working with the most at risk groups — such as the homeless, illicit drug users, those in jail and men who have sex with men.
Hep A is highly contagious and is spread by ingesting even a tiny amount of fecal matter.
On Wednesday evening, nurses were giving vaccines to those at the Springfield Soup Kitchen and representatives said nurses on Friday will be vaccinating individuals at the Clark County Jail.
“It’s so significant at this point we are canceling some normal day-to-day things that we do and we’re taking our manpower and staffing to make sure we can do even more outreach,” Patterson said.
The Clark County Combined Health District confirmed an employee of Buffalo Wild Wings on Bechtle Avenue recently contracted Hep A — although health officials made it clear that there is no risk to the public due to the circumstances of how the disease was contracted.
“The health department has been aware of this right from the start, has worked very closely with management and there are no issues that we’re aware of at this time,” Patterson said.
The health district said the restaurant has gone above and beyond the recommendations that were given to them.
Buffalo Wild Wings representatives said once they learned of the case, they took immediate action.
Rick Small, director of marketing, said the restaurant contacted every employee to make sure they were vaccinated, and staff then did a deep clean of the store out of an abundance of caution.
To the knowledge of both the restaurant and the health district, no one has gotten sick from eating at the restaurant.
“This is not a Buffalo Wild Wings incident. This is something that is Springfield, Clark County, state of Ohio, and the nation,” Small said. “We take every measure to make sure that the experience for our guest is safety first, followed by great experience and great food. It’s sort of a challenge to other establishments and the community to get vaccinated. This is a real thing we need to combat.”
Health officials said Hep A is absolutely preventable, but people need to take proper precautions. Vaccination is the best way to fight off the disease, and the vaccination series is covered by most insurance plans.
Outside of vaccination, the health district highly encourages frequent hand washing or hand sanitizer use.
Thank you for reading the Springfield News-Sun and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Springfield News-Sun. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.