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Hepatitis A outbreak in state


December 25, 2019

As of December 19, Washington State has 141 cases of hepatitis A, 75 of which were/are hospitalized, with two deaths from complications of hepatitis A.

Of those state-wide cases, Spokane County has had 70 cases of hepatitis A, and Yakima County has had 18, with 71 percent of those cases hospitalized at some point during their illness. Those numbers are expected to continue to climb despite prevention efforts.

Klickitat County has no cases of hepatitis A.

Some Klickitat County residents fall into the higher risk category for acquiring hepatitis A and frequently travel to and/or live homeless in Yakima and Spokane counties. In response, Klickitat County Public Health is offering free Hepatitis A vaccination to uninsured or underinsured Klickitat County residents and encourages everyone 1 year of age and older to get vaccinated, regardless of risk.

Hepatitis A is a vaccine preventable liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus. Illness ranges from a mild infection with no symptoms to a more severe illness that can last for months, with adults being more likely to have symptoms than children. It is usually transmitted person-to-person when people ingest the virus after touching objects (virus gets on hands and then onto food or beverage) or eating food or beverages contaminated with stool from an infected person (infected person doesn’t wash hands after toileting and then touches food). Hepatitis A is also spread from close, personal contact with an infected person.

Symptoms begin two to six weeks after infection and include: yellow skin or eyes (jaundice), dark urine and/or pale stools, loss of appetite, fever, diarrhea, fatigue, vomiting and abdominal pain. Anyone with symptoms consistent with hepatitis A should seek medical attention.

Persons at higher risk for contracting Hepatitis A include people who are or were recently: experiencing homelessness or have unstable housing, use drugs (injection or non-injection), MSM, incarcerated, have chronic liver disease including cirrhosis, hepatitis B, hepatitis C.

For more information call or stop by, in Goldendale at 228 W. Main 773-4565; White Salmon 501 NE Washington (509) 493-1558.


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