A viral infection that causes the liver to inflame, hepatitis A seems to be plaguing the United States of America as of late. For two years now, six states have reported outbreaks, including: California, Kentucky, Indiana, Utah, Michigan, and West Virginia; with Nashville, Tennessee being the latest outbreak victim of hepatitis A, with 14 confirmed cases since December of last year.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the six states listed above have genetically identical or similar strains that have been linked; lab tests have yet to determine if Nashville is genetically linked as well.
CNN reported that some signs and symptoms of hepatitis A include: fatigue, abdominal pain, fever, jaundice, and nausea, and this generally lasts for about eight weeks; although there are cases reporting the illness has lasted for up to six months.
Most people who have contracted the illness have experienced a full-recovery with no long-term damage to their liver.
As per the CDC, the best way to prevent the illness is through vaccination. Hepatitis A is generally spread via contaminated water or food, with rare cases of transmission due to close contact and poor hygiene. There is no treatment, but doctors encourage lots of fluid, rest, and adequate nutrition.
The first state to announce an outbreak within the U.S. was California, stating their hepatitis A outbreak commenced in November 2016. As of April of this year, the state has had a little over 700 cases of the illness, more than 460 hospitalizations, and 21 fatalities. Meanwhile in Indiana, there has been over 100 outbreak-related cases reported as of last month, with 51 hospitalizations. Kentucky has had a total of 629 cases, just over 401 hospitalizations, and six fatalities reported as of this past May; and Michigan has reported an astonishing 837 confirmed hepatitis A cases, with over 670 hospitalizations, and 27 fatalities to date. In addition, Utah and West Virginia both have respectively confirmed 266 and 106 hepatitis A cases.
Here’s hoping through education and vaccinations, this hepatitis A outbreak in the United States can be kept at bay, without any further deaths or complications.