Cases of hepatitis A are growing in N.H.

Monitor staff
Published: 4/16/2019 1:14:49 PM

New Hampshire is continuing to see a growing outbreak of hepatitis A, a disease that harms the liver and can in extreme cases be fatal but which is prevented by vaccination.

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services says the state saw 33 hepatitis A diagnoses in March, which is three times the number that usually happen over an entire year.

New Hampshire is not alone: 18 states have declared an outbreak of hepatitis A. More than 15,000 cases and 140 deaths have been reported in the U.S. in the past year. There is no specific treatment for the disease.

“Hepatitis A is spread by unknowingly getting the virus in your mouth after touching or eating items that are contaminated with small amounts of stool from an infected person. Hepatitis A can also spread from close personal contact with an infected person or caring for someone who is ill,” said Beth Daly, chief of the Bureau of Infectious Disease Control. “Hepatitis A is preventable with a safe and effective vaccine, which is vital to stopping this outbreak. People at high risk for infection should talk with their healthcare provider about getting vaccinated.”

People at highest risk of contracting the virus include people using injection or non-injection recreational drugs, including marijuana; people experiencing homelessness or unstable housing (e.g., “couch surfing”); gay and bisexual men; and people with close contact with high-risk individuals.

Hepatitis A causes inflammation of the liver; severe infections can result in liver failure and even death. Symptoms include fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movements, joint pain, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes). There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A.

For more information on New Hampshire’s outbreak, visit dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/cdcs/hepatitisa/hepa-nh.htm.




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