Food & Drinks

National hepatitis A outbreak mostly over in West, but continues in East

The national hepatitis A outbreak has not yet burned out. Since 2016, 35 states have reported 38,476 hepatitis A cases. Through April 2, 2021, 61 percent or 23,373 of the stricken have required hospitalization, and 365 have died.

The Division of Viral Hepatitis at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) since 2017 has actively assisted state and local health departments with hepatitis A cases. Nine states, mostly in the West, have declared their Hepatitis A outbreaks as over.

Person-to-person transmission of hepatitis A remains a problem in 26 states. Several groups continue to be more likely than others to become infected with hepatitis A. These include:

  • People who use drugs, injection, and non-injection.
  • Homeless people or those who are experiencing unstable housing.
  • Men who have sex with men. (MSM)
  • People in jail or recently incarcerated.
  • People with chronic liver disease, including cirrhosis, hepatitis B or C.

Hepatitis A spread by contaminated food and water is possible, but that’s not a principal concern in the current national outbreak.

Hepatitis A is one of the common liver diseases. It inflames the vital organ that processes nutrients, filters the blood, and fights infections. While heavy drinking can damage the liver, a virus usually brings out Hep A.

And CDC recommends the Hep A vaccine as the best way to prevent HAV infection. A one-dose single-antigen hepatitis A. vaccine is proven to control Hepatitis A outbreaks.

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States — all east of the Mississippi River — with the most hepatitis A cases include Kentucky (5,132), Florida (5,024), Ohio (3,720), and Tennessee (3036).

State and local health departments haven’t yet extinguished the outbreak in 26 Eastern states, including the big four. Two eastern states, West Virginia and Massachusetts have declared their Hep A outbreaks as over.

Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah have declared an end to their outbreaks. In the West, only Kansas and Washington State continue to experience cases.


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