The Mississippi State Health Department is reporting a hepatitis A outbreak in Mississippi.
“An outbreak occurs when we see an increased number of cases greater than what is normally expected over time. Since April we’ve seen 23 cases in Mississippi. We investigate all reported cases to identify their contacts and provide vaccination”, said MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers.
According to MSDH, Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that can be spread when a person ingests the virus through food or drink that is contaminated with the feces of an infected person or through close, personal contact (including sexual contact) with an infected person; including sexual contact and sharing or handling objects with someone who is infected.
Nausea, diarrhea, vomiting; jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), stomach pain, low appetite, and fever are symptoms of hepatitis.
Dr. Breyers says, “In Mississippi, our most at-risk populations are those who use recreational drugs, are currently in jail or were recently in jail, men who have sex with men, and those with unstable housing or who are homeless. Other states are seeing similar trends.”
Hepatitis A can be prevented through a vaccine. Other prevention measures include practicing strong hygiene habits such as thoroughly washing your hands after using the bathroom.
“We are strongly recommending that all persons who are at higher risk get hepatitis A vaccine,” said Byers. “Hepatitis A vaccine can be obtained through your provider, pharmacist and at all County Health Departments for uninsured or underinsured persons,” said Dr. Byers.
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