Health officials investigating hepatitis outbreak in Jackson County

JACKSON COUNTY, Ala. – The Alabama Department of Public Health is investigating an increase in hepatitis A cases that officials said occurred in Jackson County and may have spread to surrounding counties.

“We are in the early stages of this investigation, but we need to make sure everyone knows the importance of getting vaccinated and taking health precautions including good hand-washing,” medical officer Dr. Karen Landers said in a news release Wednesday afternoon.

Dr. Landers said this public outreach is more of a proactive measure to let people know it’s going on, and that there are vaccines out there to prevent Hepatitis A. She said there have been seven recent confirmed Hepatitis A cases in Jackson County, but those numbers could change as the investigation continues. The goal, Dr. Landers said, is to keep more people from getting the disease.

Hepatitis A symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, dark-colored urine and jaundice.

Officials said it can spread easily among unvaccinated people if they don’t practice good hand-washing, and there is a vaccine that is effective in reducing the risk of developing hepatitis A.

People who are homeless, sharing drugs or drug paraphernalia, or have spent time in jail or prison should be vaccinated, as well as men with same sex partners, health officials said.

Apart from getting vaccinated, officials recommend washing hands after using the bathroom, before preparing or eating meals and after touching anything dirty. They also recommend against sharing food, drinking, silverware, cigarettes, towels or toothbrushes.

You can find more information about Hepatitis A by clicking this link.

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