CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The Summit County Public Health department says there has been an “alarming increase in the number of reported hepatitis A cases” throughout the county in 2019.
In the beginning part of 2018, the Ohio Department of Health declared a statewide outbreak. Since the declaration, there have been 2,044 hepatitis A cases reported in Ohio, according to Summit County Public Health.
As of March 29, approximately 15,000 cases of hepatitis A were reported nationwide since 2016, including 140 deaths. Thirty-two cases were reported in Summit County for 2019 alone.
Drug misuse, especially injectable drugs, are a factor in the increase.
Symptoms of a hepatitis A infection include:
- Yellow skin or eyes
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Dark urine and/or gray-colored stools
- Joint pain
Hepatitis A can be transmitted through contact with objects, food, or drink that is contaminated with fecal matter from an infected person.
According to the health department, individuals who are especially susceptible to hepatitis A include:
- People with direct contact with individuals infected with the virus
- Men who have sex with men
- People who use street drugs whether they are injected or not
- People who are incarcerated
- People experiencing homelessness
- People who have traveled to other areas of the U.S. currently experiencing outbreaks