Ohio Dept. of Health dedicates $650K to combat hep A outbreak

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WDTN) –  The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) is making a one-time commitment of $650,000 in state funding in order to help local health departments fight Ohio’s ongoing hepatitis A outbreak.

“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,” said ODH Director Amy Acton. “We must work together at the state and local level to protect and improve the health of all Ohioans.”

The funding will be spread out depending on the needs of each health jurisdiction.

Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable liver disease that usually spreads when a person ingests fecal matter – 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.

People at high risk for hepatitis A in this outbreak include:

  • People who use drugs (injection or non-injection)
  • People experiencing unstable housing or homelessness
  • Men who have sex with men (MSM)
  • People who are currently or were recently incarcerated
  • People with chronic liver disease, including cirrhosis, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C

 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.

A statewide hepatitis A outbreak was declared by ODH in June of 2018 with outbreaks currently present in several states across the country including Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, and West Virginia.

Dr. Acton recommends that high-risk individuals contact their local health department or healthcare provider to get vaccinated if they have not already done so.

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