Cases of hepatitis A have skyrocketed in Ohio and the Department of Health is encouraging at-risk individuals to get vaccinated.
There have been 47 cases of hepatitis A so far in 2018, compared to five cases during the same timeframe in 2017, the Department of Health said in a statement on Thursday.
According to the health department, Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable liver disease that usually spreads when a person ingests fecal matter from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by the stool of an infected person.
“The best way to prevent hepatitis A among high-risk individuals is to get vaccinated,” Medical Director Clint Koenig said. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the hepatitis A vaccine for all children at age 1 and for at-risk individuals
People at increased risk for hepatitis A include:
- Those with direct contact with individuals infected with the virus
- Travelers to countries where the virus is prevalent
- Men who have sex with men
- People who use street drugs whether they are injected or not
- People with blood clotting factor disorders
- People with chronic liver disease
- Household members and other close contacts of adopted children newly arrived from countries where hepatitis A is common.
“Ohio has not seen a hepatitis A outbreak so far, which requires at least two cases to be linked to a common exposure source,” the department said. “However, outbreaks are occurring in several states across the U.S., including in neighboring states of Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and West Virginia. Some of Ohio’s hepatitis A cases are linked to these outbreaks.”
The health department said individuals who believe that they are at high risk for hepatitis A should contact their healthcare provider or local health department for information about vaccination.