County, city work to prevent hepatitis A

610 outbreaks across California, 19 deaths

Although San Benito County has no confirmed cases of hepatitis A, out of an abundance of caution, health officials are working closely with city officials to conduct prevention and control measures.

These measures include providing hepatitis A vaccine to at-risk individuals, including persons experiencing homelessness and/or illicit drug users, providing vaccine to city and county employees who interface with high-risk populations, and installing portable toilet and handwashing stations in locations most accessible for high-risk populations. The locations of these stations are behind Hollister City Hall on Fifth Street, as well as East and Third Streets.

California continues to experience an increase in cases of hepatitis A infection. As of October 20, there are 610 probable and/or confirmed cases of hepatitis A throughout the state and 19 deaths.

Symptoms of hepatitis A include: jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, and light-colored stools. Symptoms usually appear over a number of days and last less than two months. However, some people can be ill for as long as six months. Hepatitis A can sometimes cause liver failure and even death.

The hepatitis A virus can spread person to person through contaminated food, water or objects.The virus can also spread by having sexual contact or sharing drugs with someone who is infected. Those most at risk include: travelers to areas with high or intermediate rates of endemic hepatitis A, men who have sex with men, users of injection and non-injection illegal drugs, persons with clotting factor disorders, household members or caregivers of persons infected with hepatitis, and persons experiencing homelessness.

To prevent the spread of hepatitis A infection, get the hepatitis A vaccination, wash your hands with soap and water frequently, especially after using the bathroom or changing diapers, and before handling food. Do not have sex with someone who has a hepatitis A infection. Use your own towels, toothbrushes and eating utensils. Don’t share food, drinks or smokes with other people.

Individuals are recommended to check their hepatitis A vaccination status and talk to their health care providers about the risks for hepatitis A. Persons planning an international trip should check the CDC Travelers’ Health website at https://wwnc.cdc.gov/travel to see if hepatitis A vaccination is recommended for the intended destinations.

Hepatitis A vaccine is available at many doctors’ offices, clinics and at some retail pharmacies. For persons without health insurance, vaccine is available at San benito County Public Health Services. For additional information, please call (831) 637-5367 or go to the website at https://hhsa.cosb.us/publichealth.

 

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