5 Hepatitis A cases reported in Jefferson County

wwny 5 Hepatitis A cases reported in Jefferson County

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Jefferson County Public Health officials are reporting an outbreak of Hepatitis A.

Officials say the five confirmed cases appear to be confined to IV drug users, but they're looking into other possible links.

Health Planner Faith Lustik says this is the most cases of the virus the county has seen in more than 10 years.

“It’s concerning,” she said.

They say none of the cases involve food handlers.

The first case was reported in June and officials say they alerted medical providers and agencies that treat substance abusers.

Hepatitis A is communicable, but can be prevented with a vaccine. The virus is an inflammation of the liver and can cause flu-like symptoms along with discoloration of the skin.

Symptoms include fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, and jaundice.

In other communities, there’s been outbreaks that have been really hard to contain when it’s amongst the IV drug population because it’s difficult to reach people who have been using," said Lustik.

The symptoms usually resolve themselves in about two months.

Officials say washing your hands and getting vaccinated are the best ways to prevent the infection.

“We really want to make sure people get vaccinated if you’re in the population of IV drug use, men who have sex with men, it’s really important to get the Hepatitis A vaccine to get yourself immune to it,” said Lustik.

Officials note that the county had only two cases of the virus in 2018.

Lustik says anyone experiencing symptoms of Hepatitis A should visit their health care provider.

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