J.M. Hirsch of the Associated Press reports that, according to health officials Thursday, a spike in hepatitis A infections has become an outbreak after efforts to vaccinate at-risk populations earlier this year failed to control the spread of the virus.
So far this year the state has confirmed 48 cases, more than half of which officials attributed to drug abuse or contact with those who abuse drugs. New Hampshire typically sees just 15 to 20 cases a year.
The spike bucks a national downward trend. In 2003, the most recent year for which data are available, there were just 7,600 hepatitis A infections nationally, the lowest ever, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Health and Human Services Commissioner John Stephen said New Hampshire officials have worked hard to identify and vaccinate those most at risk of contracting the virus, which causes liver disease but rarely is fatal.