The Ohio Department of Health has declared a statewide community outbreak of Hepatitis A.
Hepatitis A is a contagious liver infection that is spread when a person ingests fecal matter from contaminated objects, food, and drink. It can also be spread through close personal contact with infected persons.
82 cases have been reported in Ohio this year, almost doubling the number from 2017. 13 of the newly reported cases are within Lawrence County, while 2 come from Scioto County.
Hepatitis A rates are even higher in neighboring states. West Virginia recorded 248 new cases while Kentucky has the highest Hepatitis rate in the nation with 761 new cases confirmed this year.
Boyd County, Kentucky has made local headlines recently as 10 food service workers from establishments such as Callahan’s Pub, Texas Roadhouse, and Tudor’s Biscuit World have all been diagnosed with the disease. Health officials have said the risk of customers contracting the virus is very low.
According to the Ohio Department of Health, proper hand washing and vaccinations are important ways to stem the outbreak of Hepatitis A. People at risk include those who have direct contact with infected individuals (including sexual intercourse), intravenous drug users, those who are or have previously been incarcerated, and those who work in environments where the disease is commonplace.
Symptoms of Hepatitis A include fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, jaundice, and clay colored stools. If you or someone you know may have the disease, contact your healthcare provider or local health department about vaccination information and antibody treatment. While some people have mild forms that don’t require treatment, others experience severe symptoms that could last weeks or months and could possibly result in death.