There is a minimum of 10 confirmed hepatitis A cases here in Campbell County according local health officials.  The Tennessee Department of Health continues to investigate and respond to a hepatitis A outbreak impacting the state.   As of January 4, 655 cases of illness, 409 hospitalizations and two deaths associated with this hepatitis A outbreak have been reported in Tennessee.   The outbreak in Tennessee most heavily affects Nashville and Chattanooga.

Tennessee’s hepatitis A outbreak is linked to a large, multi-state outbreak that began in 2017. This outbreak is primarily affecting recreational drug users and people experiencing homelessness.

Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable, communicable disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus. It is usually transmitted from one person to another through contact with contaminated feces or consumption of contaminated food or water. The most at-risk groups for hepatitis A include recreational drug users, men who have sex with men and people experiencing homelessness. Many of the hepatitis A cases in the current outbreak are associated with recreational drug use.

“More than 36,000 doses of hepatitis A vaccine have been provided to those most at risk in our state and I believe this massive effort has made a huge difference in reducing the number of hepatitis A cases,” said TDH Assistant Commissioner for Communicable and Environmental Diseases and Emergency Preparedness Tim Jones, MD. “We urge anyone in the high risk groups to get vaccinated as soon as possible, and will continue to work with state and local partners to provide hepatitis A vaccine to people at high risk for infection and educate people on how to prevent the spread of this disease.”

Steps to prevent infection with hepatitis A include washing hands with soap and water after using the bathroom, before eating and before preparing or serving food. Get vaccinated if you are at high risk for getting hepatitis A. The vaccine can protect you after a single dose. Local health departments are offering free hepatitis A vaccine for high risk populations. Contact your local health department at Jacksboro to schedule an appointment.  The telephone number for the Campbell County Health Department is 423.562.8351.

Through January 4, 30 cases of hepatitis A have been reported in the East Region of Tennessee.  Campbell County is in the East Region.

More information about hepatitis A and Tennessee’s response to this outbreak can be found HERE.  The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote, and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee.  (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 01/16/2019-6AM)