Sun Staff Writer Elise Comtois reports that hepatitis A cases in New Hampshire are already double the normal number.
Hepatitis A is a liver disease that can cause a person to be ill for months. There have been 48 cases of the virus reported this year, much higher than the normal 15 or 20 per year.
While the hardest hit area seems to be Merrimack County, with a total of 21 hepatitis A cases, southern New Hampshire hasn’t escaped the outbreak.
State epidemiologist Jose Montero said New Hampshire’s historical average rate of hepatitis A cases is 1.5 cases per 100,000 people. Rockingham county’s hepatitis A rate is almost double that number, and Hillsborough County is nearly 10 times greater.
Montero said about 60 percent of the cases are related to drug abuse. Hepatitis A is most commonly spread through fecal-oral contact, and people abusing drugs may not pay as much attention to personal hygiene and safety.