Maine Confirms Hepatitis A Outbreak

HepA cases confirmed in Penobscot, Somerset, and York counties in Maine
lobster dinner

The US state of Maine has seen an increase in hepatitis A cases in Penobscot, Somerset, and York counties over the past  4-months, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (MeCDC) reported.

MeCDC announced on June 18, 2020, the number of reported hepatitis A (HepA) cases climbing from zero in January and has now identified 39 cases in these 3 counties.

Recent case MeCDC investigations, however, have not identified a source of the infections.

Historically Maine reported 7 to 10 cases of HepA per year over the past decade. 

But, in 2019, MeCDC identified 45 HepA cases. 

This increase was driven by a restaurant-associated outbreak and cases related to injection drug use or homelessness.

Previous HepA outbreaks among workers at Maine restaurants include, but are not limited to, the Sea Salt Lobster Restaurant in Saco in June, and at Joseph’s Market in Waterville in January 2020, reported the Bangor Daily News.

Since the outbreaks were first identified in Michigan during 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Division of Viral Hepatitis has reported over 32,700 hepatitis A virus (HAV) cases in 30 states, as of June 13, 2020.

During this outbreak, the states of Florida (4,477) and Kentucky (5,001) have reported the most HepA cases in the USA.

The CDC reported during June 2019, ‘the spread of germs from the hands of food workers to food accounts for about 89 percent of HepA outbreaks in which food was contaminated by food workers.’

Throughout 2018 and 2019, numerous restaurants reported food service staff worked while infectious, potentially spreading the HAV to patrons.

The CDC says ‘if you are at risk of contracting HAV, get vaccinated.’

Additionally, pre-vaccination serologic testing is not required to administer the hepatitis A vaccine. And, vaccinations should not be postponed if vaccination history cannot be obtained or records are unavailable, says the CDC.

There are three HAV vaccines approved for use in the USA: Vaqta, Havrix, and Twinrix. The most common potential side effect of these vaccines is soreness at or around the injection site.

Precision Vaccinations publishes hepatitis vaccine news.