New York Issues Hepatitis A Outbreak Advisory

Suspected Hepatitis A virus cases occurring in food handlers must be reported immediately to the New York state health department

map of the state of NY

The ongoing Hepatitis A virus outbreak across the USA has reached the state of New York. On December 12, 2019, a Health Advisory was sent to healthcare providers in New York, that says there is a ‘Hepatitis A outbreak.’

This new Advisory was issued by the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and the Bureau of Communicable Disease Control (BCDC) is reporting a 235 percent increase in Hepatitis A virus (HAV) cases during 2019, compared to the average number of cases reported annually through 2016-2018.

An increase in HAV cases has been seen in all regions of the state but excludes New York City

The counties of Dutchess, Erie, Jefferson, Niagara, Onondaga, Oswego, and Suffolk have been particularly impacted.

The NYSDOH recommends that local health departments (LHDs), healthcare facilities, syringe exchange programs, drug user health hubs, and partners and programs providing services to these at-risk populations promote hepatitis A vaccination in concert with the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

Hepatitis A is a liver infection caused by a virus, which can be easily spread. Risk factors reported by NYS cases during this outbreak include non-injection and injection drug use, unstable housing/homelessness, current or recent incarceration, and men having sex with men.

 Since the hepatitis A outbreaks were first identified in 2016, various states have reported repeated HAV outbreaks related to food service staff working in restaurants during 2018 and 2019.

According to a 2015 study conducted by The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration found the food services and hospitality industries to have the highest rates of substance use disorders of most employment sectors.

According to this new NYS Advisory, suspected HAV cases occurring in a food handler must be reported immediately.

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As of December 6, 2019, NYS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have confirmed 28,985 cases associated with person-to-person outbreaks of HAV since 2016 from 30 states, including approximately 17,500 hospitalizations and 296 fatalities.

During November 2019, the state of New Jersey reported various HAV outbreaks.

On November 2, 2019, the New Jersey health department reported Camden County had confirmed (140) cases associated with the current Hepatitis A outbreak, along with Gloucester (62), Mercer (49) and Burlington (39) counties.

Moreover, treating Hepatitis A patients is expensive.

Previous studies have concluded the average annual cost for treating hospitalized hepatitis A patients covered under commercial health insurance plans could run up to $11,479.

These studies found treating hepatitis A patients over a 12-month period had more frequent hospitalizations and emergency department visits, and averaged higher utilization of outpatient services.

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HAV vaccination is recommended by the CDC for all children starting at 1 year. Most (70%) of HAV infections in children younger than age 6 are not accompanied by symptoms.

The CDC also suggests travelers to certain countries and for people at high risk of the infection get an HAV vaccination.

The CDC says just 1-dose of a single-antigen hepatitis A vaccine provides up to 95 percent seroprotection in healthy individuals for up to 11 years. And, pre-vaccination serologic testing is not required to administer the hepatitis A vaccine.

There are 3 HAV vaccines approved in the USA: Vaqta, Havrix, and Twinrix, which are available at most pharmacies in NJ. And, immune globulin can provide short-term protection against hepatitis A, both pre- and post-exposure.

Hepatitis A vaccine news published by Precision Vaccinations