Officials with the Cabell-Huntington County Health Department in West Virginia have increased the number of reported individuals infected with Hepatitis A to 11, including children and adults. Thus far the agency has vaccinated 236 people as part of two free vaccinations clinics. To date, no source for the outbreak has been identified.
A special clinic was held on Tuesday, December 28th at Chestnut Grove Fellowship Hall on Barkers Ridge Road from 2:00 PM – 7:00 PM. This clinic was held to educate and vaccinate those community members who are currently at risk. Vaccine was offered free of charge for those children and adults who attended the clinic. The health department is currently working to identify ALL potential contacts. Persons recently exposed (within 2 weeks) to a confirmed case of hepatitis A should receive prophylaxis (vaccine or immune globulin) and it is available for adults and children. If you or your child is a potential contact you will be contacted by a health department official.
About Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A is the only common vaccine-preventable foodborne disease in the United States (Fiore, 2004). It is one of five human hepatitis viruses that primarily infect the human liver and cause human illness. Unlike hepatitis B and C, hepatitis A doesn’t develop into chronic hepatitis or cirrhosis, which are both potentially fatal conditions; however, infection with the hepatitis A virus (HAV) can still lead to acute liver failure and death.
Symptoms typically begin about 28 days after contracting HAV, but can begin as early as 15 days or as late as 50 days after exposure and include muscle aches, headache, anorexia (loss of appetite), abdominal discomfort, fever, and malaise. After a few days of the aforementioned symptoms, jaundice (also termed “icterus”) sets in. Jaundice is a yellowing of the skin, eyes and mucous membranes that occurs because bile flows poorly through the liver and backs up into the blood. The urine will also turn dark with bile and the stool light or clay-colored from lack of bile. When jaundice sets in, the initial systemic manifestations (such as fever and headache) begin to subside.
In general, symptoms usually last less than 2 months, although 10% to 15% of symptomatic persons have prolonged or relapsing disease for up to 6 months. It is not unusual, however, for blood tests to remain abnormal for six months or more.