Hepatitis A Fatalities Continue in America’s Heartland States During 2019
According to recent state reports, the hepatitis A outbreak that started in 2017 is going strong during 2019 in America’s Heartland states.
As of March 15, 2019, new hepatitis A cases and related deaths continue to be reported by several states in the central part of the USA.
The 5 states who have reported the most cases and related deaths during the 2017-2019 outbreak are as follows:
- Kentucky: 4,288 cases, and 44 deaths
- West Virginia: 2,441 cases, and 21 deaths
- Ohio: 1,931 cases, and 7 deaths
- Indiana: 1,124 cases, and 4 deaths
- Tennessee: 1,022 cases, and 6 deaths
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began issuing alerts regarding hep A outbreaks after it first observed cases in Michigan during 2017. Since then, several preventive steps to reduce these outbreaks have taken place around the country, such as:
- The CDC adopted a recommendation on February 15, 2019, that all persons experiencing homelessness, and older than 1 year of age, should be routinely immunized against hep A
- Hep A vaccination should be administered to infants aged 6–11 months when traveling outside the USA when protection against the hep A virus is recommended.
- First responders are now encouraged to receive preventive hep A vaccination in Ohio.
- Food service staff are recommended to receive preventive hep A vaccination in Kentucky.
The Hepatitis A virus is usually transmitted person-to-person through the fecal-oral route or consumption of contaminated food or water. Hepatitis A is a self-limited liver disease that does not result in chronic infection, says the CDC.
Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable, disease of the liver. The CDC says there are 3 hepatitis A vaccines available, Vaqta, Havrix, and, Twinrix, which is a combined hep A and hepatitis B vaccine approved for people older than 18 years of age.
When deciding to schedule a hep A vaccination appointment, its best to discuss your decision with a doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
Hep A vaccines are available at pharmacies in most states.
Vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of vaccines to the FDA or CDC.