DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – The Ohio Department of Health has declared a “statewide community outbreak” of hepatitis A.
So far, this year: there are 79 cases in Ohio – including confirmed cases right here in the Miami Valley.
“In 2018 so far, we have 18 cases,” said Dan Suffoletto, Public Information Supervisor at Dayton & Montgomery County Public Health.
“Last year there was one case and the year before that, there were no cases.”
So what’s driving the increase? Suffoletto says it’s difficult to pinpoint, but hepatitis A spreads very easily.
“Hepatitis A is very contagious so that really contributes to the easy spread of the disease,” he said.
Hepatitis A is a liver disease that’s usually spread when a person ingests fecal matter – by coming into contact with foods, drinks, or objects contaminated by an infected person’s feces.
Symptoms include: “Fatigue, nausea, fever, but the tell-tale sign is yellowing or jaundice of the face.”
Good hand washing after using the bathroom and before eating or preparing food is one of best ways to prevent the illness.
Suffoletto says some groups are more susceptible to the disease than others, but there is a vaccine.
“People in jail, people who are homeless, people who use drugs – because it is shared through needles and other ways you contract hepatitis A,” he said. “So you really want to make sure that those populations are vaccinated.”
If you haven’t got the vaccine, it’s not to late to get one. Talk to your doctor or visit Public Health.