Kings County health officials say no Hepatitis A cases reported this year

By The Leader Staff
The Kings County Health Department announced this week that it hadn't reported any Hepatitis A cases so far, this year. Outbreaks have occurred in California, most notably San Diego and San Cruz counties.

Health Department officials say the current outbreak is primarily spreading among the homeless with access to illicit drugs in areas where sanitation, including places to wash hands, is limited.

Health officials say there is no increased risk of Hepatitis A to the general public.

Hepatitis A spreads when an infected person fails to wash his/her hands properly after going to the bathroom and then touches food or other objects.

Uninfected people who come into contact with contaminated food or objects may become infected. By thoroughly washing your hands with soap and running water after using the bathroom and before you eat, you can help protect yourself from Hepatitis A.

Usually, Hepatitis A is a mild illness. For those with other health conditions causing chronic liver diseases, such as alcoholic cirrhosis or Hepatitis B or C infection, Hepatitis A can be severe and sometimes fatal. Most people infected with Hepatitis A recover, and many have no symptoms.

Other symptoms may include jaundice (yellowing of the eyes or skin), fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Health officials suggest concerned patients see their doctor if they develop any of these symptoms.

There are vaccinations available for both children and adults. Since 1999, children are routinely vaccinated for Hepatitis A. There continues to be plenty of the vaccine available for children.

The current priority for the adult Hepatitis A vaccine is people in counties where Hepatitis A is spreading among the homeless population and people using illicit drugs. People who are in ongoing close contact with these populations are also recommended to receive the vaccine. There are no additional public health vaccination efforts currently recommended for anyone in Kings County.

Health Department officials are closely monitoring the situation and will take appropriate action if there are any changes to the current recommendations for Kings County. Please call (559) 584-1401 if you have any questions or concerns about Hepatitis A.

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