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Ohio Health Department recommends hepatitis A shots for at-risk people

On Friday, the Ohio Department of Health issued a warning that people should get a hepatitis A vaccine.

The department said that so far this year there have been 47 cases of hepatitis A across the state, compared to five cases in the first four months of 2017. To date, there are no confirmed cases in Lawrence County.

Hepatitis A is a disease spread when a person ingests even a microscopic amount of fecal matter. It is usually transmitted person-to-person through the fecal-oral route or consumption of contaminated food or water. It affects the liver and is preventable with a vaccine shot and then a booster shot six months later.

“The best way to prevent hepatitis A among high -risk individuals is to get vaccinated,” said ODH Medical Director Dr. Clint Koenig. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the hepatitis A vaccine for all children at age 1 and for at-risk individuals.”

Ohio has not seen a hepatitis A outbreak so far, which requires at least two cases to be linked to a common exposure source. However, there have been three cases of food workers in Boyd County having been identified as having hepatitis A.

Hepatitis A is a self-limited disease that does not result in chronic infection and symptoms include fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, and jaundice, that usually resolve within 2 months of infection; most children less than 6 years of age do not have symptoms or have an unrecognized infection.