PHOENIX — Arizona, along with many other states, is currently experiencing a statewide outbreak of hepatitis A affecting eight counties, including Graham and Cochise counties.
There have been more than 350 cases, primarily among at-risk individuals, which include illicit drug users, people experiencing homelessness or unstable housing, and those who have been recently incarcerated. Eighty percent of cases have been hospitalized.
Hepatitis A is highly contagious, but it is also effectively preventable. The best way to prevent hepatitis A infection is to get vaccinated. Vaccination is generally recommended for:
• People experiencing homelessness or unstable housing
• People who use drugs
• People who have recently been incarcerated
• Men who have sex with men
Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with the hepatitis A virus. Symptoms include:
• Nausea and vomiting
• Abdominal pain
• Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
However, some people with hepatitis A do not have symptoms.
Hepatitis A is highly contagious and spreads when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food or drinks contaminated by microscopic amounts of stool from an infected person.
Hepatitis A can also spread from close personal contact with an infected person such as through sex or caring for someone who is ill. People who are infected can spread the virus for about three weeks before and after symptoms appear.
In addition to vaccination, proper hygiene and handwashing can help prevent the spread of the virus.
Those who would like to get the hepatitis A vaccine, or those not sure if they have had the vaccine, should contact a health-care provider or pharmacy. Those who think they might have hepatitis A should contact a doctor.
For additional information on hepatitis A in Arizona visit azhealth.gov/HepAOutbreak.