Officials urge vaccinations after state hepatitis outbreak

3 months 2 weeks 5 days ago Thursday, August 22 2019 Aug 22, 2019 Thursday, August 22, 2019 9:20:00 PM CDT August 22, 2019 in News
By: Emily Wolf, KOMU 8 Digital Producer

COLUMBIA — The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services is encouraging at-risk people to get vaccinated for hepatitis A after hundreds of hepatitis cases were reported since 2017. 

Officials said there have been 414 hepatitis A cases associated with an outbreak, spread across 35 counties. 56 percent of those cases resulted in hospitalizations. Two people died. 

At risk populations include people who:

  • use injection and non-injection drugs
  • experience homelessness 
  • engage in anal intercourse
  • are being treated for substance abuse
  • work at or have been detained in a jail or detention center
  • have close contact with any of the above groups or someone with confirmed hepatitis A. 

Members of any of the listed groups who have not been vaccinated can contact the public health agency in their area to request the vaccine or ask questions, according to DHSS. 

108 of reported cases are in Butler County. The second highest incident rate is in Franklin County, where 69 cases have been reported. 

Hepatitis A is a viral liver infection. Symptoms include loss of appetite, nausea, fever, tiredness, stomach pain, brown colored urine and light colored stool. People may also experience yellowing of the skin or eyes. 

Officials said people can become sick up to seven weeks after exposure to the virus. They urge anyone who thinks they have symptoms of hepatitis A to contact their doctor. 

People should wash their hands with soap and water after using the bathroom and changing diapers and before eating or cooking to help prevent the disease's spread.

For more information about hepatitis A, visit here. 

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