Since WLAF first reported on Tennessee’s hepatitis A outbreak in January and earlier in March, numbers continue climbing. Campbell County now has confirmed hep A cases numbering in the teens, according to health officials.
Through Friday, March 15, 108 cases of hepatitis A, up from 30 in January, have been reported in the East Region of Tennessee. Campbell County is in the East Region.
The Tennessee Department of Health continues to investigate and respond to a hepatitis A outbreak impacting the state. As of March 15, 1,022 cases of illness have been reported statewide compared to 945 two weeks ago. Deaths associated with this hepatitis A outbreak have tripled from two to six since January.
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, officials said.
“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,” said TDH Assistant Commissioner for Communicable and Environmental Diseases and Emergency Preparedness Tim Jones, MD.
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 for your free hepatitis A vaccine. The telephone number for the Campbell County Health Department is 423.562.8351.
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 – 03/20/2019-6AM)