Clinic hosted in wake of hepatitis A outbreak

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Logan County District Board of Health members were informed at their Wednesday afternoon meeting about a special immunization clinic that took place earlier this week to protect a vulnerable population against a multi-state outbreak of hepatitis A.

Nursing Director Kelly Reaver shared that while no cases of this liver disease have been reported locally in Logan County, a total of 119 cases have been reported during the recent outbreak in Ohio. She also cited concerns with the high number of hepatitis A cases in the neighboring states of Kentucky and Michigan, where upward of 800 cases and 700 cases have been reported, respectively.

As a precautionary measure relating to the outbreak of this vaccine-preventative disease, the health district staff and the Medical Reserve Corp. conducted the local clinic Tuesday at the Logan County Jail. A total of 26 inmates and 31 jail staff members received the hepatitis A vaccine, and Reaver said several additional individuals who could not attend the clinic would be receiving the vaccine later this week.

“We had a good response with the clinic, and we feel like it’s one of the best things we can do to protect our residents against this outbreak,” the nursing director said.

According to the Ohio Department of Health, hepatitis A usually spreads when a person ingests fecal matter – even in microscopic amounts — from contact with objects, food or drinks contaminated by the stool of an infected person. Hepatitis A can also be spread from close personal contact with an infected person, such as through sex.

People at increased risk for hepatitis A in this outbreak include: people with direct contact with individuals infected with the virus; men who have sex with men; people who use street drugs whether they are injected or not; people who are incarcerated; people experiencing homelessness and people who have traveled to other areas of the U.S. currently experiencing outbreaks.

Symptoms of hepatitis A include fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, clay-colored stools and jaundice. People with hepatitis A can experience mild illness lasting a few weeks to severe illness lasting several months.

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