Hepatitis A cases surging in Ohio: Should you get vaccinated?

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - At this time last year there were just five cases of Hepatitis A in Ohio, but officials with Ohio Department of Health (ODH) are reporting there have been 47 so far this year.

"Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable liver disease that usually spreads when a person ingests fecal matter — even in microscopic amounts — from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by the stool of an infected person," a release from ODH said.

Other states around Ohio are also seeing this issue but even worse.

In the states of Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and West Virginia they are experiencing outbreaks of Hepatitis A, but Ohio doesn't reach that level yet.

In order to call it an outbreak, there needs to be at least two cases to be linked to a common exposure source.

That has not happened in Ohio.

Who should get the vaccine?

Because a vaccine can prevent a person from being infected with Hepatitis A the ODH is advising many in Ohio, who are at high-risk, to be proactive and get the vaccine from either their healthcare provider or a local health department.

Those at high-risk include:

  • Those with direct contact with individuals infected with the virus
  • Travelers to countries where the virus is prevalent
  • Men who have sex with men
  • People who use street drugs (injected or not)
  • People with blood clotting factor disorders
  • People with chronic liver disease
  • Families/close contacts of adopted children newly arrived from countries where hepatitis A is common.

Symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Low appetite
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Clay-colored stools
  • Jaundice

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