The State, a local Columbia newspaper, released a warning from public officials that what began in Aiken County, a Hepatitis A outbreak, has now spread to other counties. It was reported that most of the cases in Aiken County were a result of drug abuse.
86 cases have been reported in S.C. since November. 59 have led to the hospitalization and one resulted in death, DHEC said.
Over the past 10 years, only 19 cases were reported annually. However; State Epidemiologist Linda Bell said Monday, 5/13/2019, that’s more than four times what state officials normally expect to see.
“And so it’s important for us to do our prevention efforts early to reach those high-risk groups, get them vaccinated … so that we can prevent a severe outbreak,” Bell said.
“Most transmission in the United States is through person-to-person contact,” Bell said. “Good hygiene, diligently washing your hands, is a good way to prevent Hepatitis A, as well as not sharing personal items,” including drug equipment, she said, adding the state has received reports of Hepatitis A from people using various drugs, everything from marijuana to meth.”
Hepatitis is a disease characterized by inflammation of the liver. It comes in many forms, including hepatitis A, B, and C. As a result, individuals with chronic liver disease, like cirrhosis, are at increased risk of complications if infected and should be vaccinated.
Infection usually results in sickness in two to six weeks after exposure. Symptoms include fatigue, loss of appetite, stomach pain, nausea, and yellowing of the eyes and skin. Symptoms usually resolve within two months of infection, according to the CDC.
The State reports the Department of Health and Environmental Control is offering no-cost vaccines to high risk groups including drug users, homeless, formerly incarcerated and sexually-active gay men.
Additionally, health officials recommend all children get two doses of the vaccine as part of their immunization schedule.
The virus-borne infection can be prevented by vaccination and is usually transmitted person-to-person through consumption of contaminated food or water, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Antibodies produced in response to hepatitis A infection last for life and protect against reinfection.
Residents can schedule an appointment for a vaccination at their local health department by calling 855-472-3432 or going to http://bit.ly/2HhEsM8.
Ref. thestate.com, MSN/lifestyle/associatedpress
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