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West Virginia Hepatitis A Outbreak Sickens 11

The Cabell-Huntington County Health Department in West Virginia has vaccinated 236 people in two free community clinics after 11 individuals were infected with hepatitis A in the Milton area.  

No source for the outbreak has been identified.

The health department is currently working to identify all potential contacts. Adults and children recently exposed (within 2 weeks) to a confirmed case of hepatitis A should receive prophylaxis (vaccine or immune globulin). 

Hepatitis A is the only common vaccine-preventable foodborne disease in the United States. It is one of five human hepatitis viruses that primarily infect the human liver and cause human illness. Unlike hepatitis B and C, hepatitis A doesn’t develop into chronic hepatitis or cirrhosis, which are both potentially fatal conditions; however, infection with the hepatitis A virus (HAV) can still lead to acute liver failure and death.

Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by a virus, which is found in the stool of an infected person.  People with hepatitis A can be very sick and usually need to see a doctor in order to get better. There is no treatment for hepatitis A however; hepatitis A is a vaccine preventable disease.

Hands that have not been washed after going to the bathroom or by touching items such as diapers or linens soiled by bowel movement spread this disease from person to person.  It can also be spread by water or ice and by eating foods that may have become contaminated during handling.  Hepatitis A can also be spread by sharing items such as eating utensils, cups, cigarettes, lip balm or items used to take drugs.

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