NORTHEAST, Ala. – The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) says a hepatitis A outbreak in DeKalb and Jackson Counties is spreading. More cases that could be related were reported in Cherokee and Marshall counties with symptoms of the contagious liver infection starting as recently as March 3.
There have been 22 cases reported in Jackson County, 12 cases in DeKalb County and 1 case in Marshall County, according to ADPH officials.
Hepatitis A Symptoms
After being exposed to someone sick with hepatitis A, symptoms may appear from 15 to 50 days later. Symptoms may include fever, headache, fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, dark urine or jaundice. If persons, family or friends are experiencing any of these symptoms, they should contact their healthcare provider as soon as possible.
Reduce the Spread of hepatitis A
- Get vaccinated as soon as possible.
- Wash your hands frequently;
- Before, during, and after preparing food
- After using the toilet
- After changing diapers or cleaning up after a person who has used the toilet
- After touching garbage
- Before eating food
- Before and after caring for someone who is sick
- Do not share drug paraphernalia, cigarettes, food, drinks, eating utensils, towels or toothbrushes.
Behaviors with a High Risk of Exposure
- Having close contact with a person known to have hepatitis A.
- Via an infected food handler at a restaurant.
- Sharing drug paraphernalia
- Jail or prison
- Homeless or transient living
- Oral or anal sex can spread the infection.
- Having contact with unvaccinated individuals who fail to wash their hands.
Hepatitis A vaccination offers full protection against hepatitis A infection from all exposures listed above, whether the infected individuals have symptoms or not.
Hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for anyone who participates in high-risk behaviors listed above and the people they are in contact with, and/or anyone who would like to protect themselves from the risk of infection.
ADPH focuses on vaccinating high-risk persons or uninsured persons. Persons at low risk for hepatitis A who may wish to be vaccinated may contact their healthcare provider or pharmacy. Many health insurance plans cover hepatitis A vaccinations at physicians’ offices and pharmacies.
“Hepatitis A vaccination and proper hand washing will significantly reduce the spread of this virus in these counties and are important measures to protect the community,” said Medical Officer Dr. Karen Landers.
Click here for more information about hepatitis A, or contact the ADPH Immunization Division Surveillance Branch at 1(800)469-4599.