Updated
October 23rd, 2018

Massachusetts Reports 65 Hepatitis A Cases and 1 Death

Hepatitis A virus outbreaks continue in Arkansas, California, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Utah, and West Virginia

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The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) reported 65 cases of acute hepatitis A virus (HAV) infection and 1 death since April 2018.

The MDPH says 45 percent of these cases have been located in the city of Boston.

Many of the cases have complex medical issues, including co-infection with the hepatitis C virus (68%) and HIV (8%).

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Additionally, there has been high morbidity reported with 93 percent of cases requiring hospitalization.

According to the MDPH, these cases are all individuals who have recent experience of homelessness, unstable housing, and/or substance use disorder.

For outbreak control, MDPH is recommending education of at-risk individuals and that all members of these populations be offered a single dose of monovalent hepatitis A vaccine.

Arranging for follow-up doses to complete the vaccine series may be conducted, but is not necessary to interrupt HAV transmission.

The Hepatitis A vaccine is available through MDPH to community partners for provision to members of the target populations.

MDPH and the Boston Public Health Commission released a clinical advisory regarding this situation in early August 2018 when it first became evident that there was ongoing HAV transmission occurring in Massachusetts.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been tracking multiple large outbreaks of HAV infection in other states since the Michigan 2017 outbreak.

Currently, the states of Arkansas, California, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Utah, and West Virginia are reporting widespread hepatitis A outbreaks.

Both of these advisories urged clinicians to be alert for signs and symptoms of acute HAV infection, recommended enhanced vaccination efforts targeting high-risk individuals, and reminded that effective sanitation plays an important role in preventing new cases. 

Administration of hepatitis A vaccine to at-risk persons is the cornerstone of these efforts.

The hepatitis A vaccine is given in two doses, six months apart.

Most pharmacies in the USA offer hepatitis vaccines. To request a vaccination appointment, please visit this page.

The CDC Vaccine Price List displays current HAV vaccine contract prices and general information.   

And, vaccine discounts can be found here.

Vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of vaccines to the FDA or CDC.