CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – The Hamilton county Health Department sounded the alarm last week..and since then 3 more people have reported having Hepatitis “A.”
The Hamilton county health department usually records about one case a year of Hepatitis A. This year there are 7.
Increases like that are being recorded in dozens of other communities in the south and that’s leading most to step up their monitoring and notifications to the community.
Dr. Valerie Boaz from the health department says “People who have been identified as high risk, and that would be men who have sex with men, people who are homeless, and also recreational drug users, so we’re offering free Hepatitis A vaccine to people in those groups, at all of our health department sites.”
The concern is not just for those who have contracted Hep A, but for those get it from them. That’s especially true if the patient works in food service jobs.
A little prevention goes a long way.
“Vaccine is routinely offered and available in our community. The special program that we have, is for these groups that have been identified at high risk during this current time, so again, anyone wanting to protect themselves they can see their private provider, some pharmacies offer the vaccines, and we offer vaccine, Hepatitis A vaccine on a routine basis.”
If you suspect you’ve been exposed….here’s what to watch for.
“It’s a gastrointestinal infection and the symptoms would be fever, uh, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, they may have joint pain, dark urine, clay colored stools, or jaundice, and if someone has those symptoms, we encourage them to see their health care provider.”
Most children under 6 years of age do not have symptoms or may have an unrecognized infection.
Although many adults will have mild symptoms, some will result in hospitalization or even death. The best way to prevent hepatitis A infection is to get vaccinated.