Hepatitis A cases increasing in the state

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BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Hepatitis A cases are on the rise in Louisiana.

Since January 1, 2018, there have been 959 Hepatitis A cases in the state.

The Louisiana Department of Health describes Hepatitis A this way:

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus. It is a vaccine-preventable illness that is easily spread through close contact, as well as from sharing injection and non-injection drugs.

There have been three deaths in connection with Hepatitis A between January 1, 2018 and June 16, 2020.

If you have these symptoms, you might have Hepatitis A:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dark urine
  • Clay-colored bowel movements
  • Joint pain
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)

The ages of those who have contracted Hepatitis A range from 5 to 81.

The Louisiana Office of Public Health emphasizes that these certain groups are more at risk:

  • People reporting drug use (injection and non-injection)
  • People experiencing homelessness
  • Men who have sex with men
  • Incarcerated or recently incarcerated individuals
  • People who have been in close contact of someone infected with Hepatitis A

The Louisiana Office of Public Health stresses that “an infected person can transmit the virus to others up to two weeks before symptoms appear, and even those who do not experience symptoms can transmit the virus to others.”

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends that the following people get routine hepatitis A vaccinations:

  • All children at age 1 year
  • Travelers to countries where hepatitis A is common
  • Family and caregivers of adoptees from countries where hepatitis A is common
  • Men who have sexual encounters with other men
  • Users of recreational drugs, whether injected or not
  • People with chronic or long-term liver disease, including hepatitis B or hepatitis C
  • People with clotting-factor disorders
  • People with direct contact with others who have hepatitis A
  • Any person wishing to obtain immunity (protection)

The Louisiana Office of Public Health provided this map which shows Hepatitis A cases by parish:

Picture courtesy of Louisiana Department of Health

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