From The Trussville Tribune staff reports
JACKSON COUNTY — The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) is investigating an increase in hepatitis A cases in Jackson County. They believe that this outbreak may have spread to surrounding counties.
ADPH said that people who are at the highest risk for hepatitis A include users of illegal substances, homeless persons, and men with same sex partners. Other persons also may become infected with the hepatitis A virus.
ADPH said that there is an effective vaccine available to reduce the risk of developing hepatitis A.
“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,” said Medical Officer Dr. Karen Landers.
According to the ADPH, hepatitis A can spread easily among unvaccinated persons if good hand-washing practices are not observed. ADPH also emphasized that individuals who may be experiencing homelessness, using recreational drugs, sharing drugs or drug paraphernalia, having spent time in jail or prison, or men with same sex partners need to be vaccinated against hepatitis A. Other persons may chose to get vaccinated as well.
After being exposed to someone sick with hepatitis A, symptoms may not appear until 15 to 50 days later and may include fever, headache, fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, dark urine or jaundice.
If you or anyone you know are experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your healthcare provider and take steps to prevent spreading illness.
To reduce the risk of hepatitis A disease:
● Get vaccinated.
● Wash hands after using the bathroom, before preparing or eating meals, and after touching anything unclean.
● Do not share food, drinks, eating utensils, cigarettes, towels, toothbrushes or drug paraphernalia.
For more information, visit http://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/immunization/assets/hepatitisaflyer.pdf or contact the ADPH Immunization Division at (334) 206-5023 or toll free at 800-469-4599