DARKE COUNTY — The first death from Hepatitis A in the State of Ohio associated with the current outbreak of the disease was a Montgomery County resident.
In early September, the Darke County Health District reported five cases of Hepatitis A in the county, none fatal.
The State of Ohio and Montgomery County are seeing a large increase in the number of Hepatitis A cases. As of Oct. 15, there have been 113 cases of Hepatitis A in Montgomery County and 666 in the State of Ohio. In Montgomery County in 2017, there was one case and in 2016 there were no reported cases.
The Darke County General Health District is encouraging people to get vaccinated.
Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable liver disease that usually spreads when a person ingests fecal matter — even in small amounts — from contact with objects, food or drinks contaminated by the stool of an infected person. Hepatitis A also can spread from close personal contact with an infected person, such as through sex.
Symptoms of Hepatitis A include fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, light-colored stools and jaundice. Most people who get Hepatitis A feel sick for several months, but they usually recover completely and do not have lasting liver damage. Sometimes Hepatitis A can cause liver failure and death, although this is rare and occurs more commonly in people older than 50 and people with other liver diseases.
Who is at greater risk for Hepatitis A?
- People who use street drugs whether they are injected or not
- People who are incarcerated
- People experiencing homelessness
- Men who have sex with men
- People with direct contact with individuals infected with the virus
- People who have traveled to other areas of the U.S. currently experiencing outbreaks
Public Health also is urging restaurant owners to encourage their employees to receive a Hepatitis A vaccination.
“Prevention is important and the best way to prevent Hepatitis A is to get vaccinated. Proper and frequent hand washing is also important to control the spread of disease,” said Emily Hoisington BSN, RN, Infectious Disease Nurse.
Individuals who are concerned about Hepatitis A should contact their doctor, health care provider, pharmacy or Public Health. For information about vaccinations call the Darke County General Health District at 937-548-4196 ext. 224.