Ohio declares hepatitis A outbreak; joins growing list of states

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Caption
Understanding Hepatitis A

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Ohio is experiencing a statewide outbreak of hepatitis A, with 79 cases so far this year.

The Ohio Department of Health declared a statewide community outbreak of hepatitis A Friday evening.

Drug use, homelessness and incarceration are all risk factors, Ohio Department of Health officials said. Those who share needles or use street drugs -- injected or not -- are especially at risk.

Outbreaks of hepatitis A are happening in several states across the U.S., including the neighboring states of Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and West Virginia.

Arkansas, California, Kentucky, Missouri and Utah are also experiencing outbreaks of hepatitis A, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

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Hepatitis A is a liver disease that is preventable through a vaccine. It is usually spread when a person ingests fecal matter -- even in microscopic amounts. This can happen through sharing food or drinks that are contaminated by the stool from an infected person. It can be spread through close personal contact, including sex, according to health officials.

Symptoms include fatigue, low appetite, jaundice and stomach pain. People with hepatitis A can experience mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months.

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