Hepatitis A Outbreak in Georgia – Infection is Preventable With Vaccination
Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). It can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. Although rare, hepatitis A can cause death in some people. Hepatitis A usually spreads when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food, or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool from an infected person. Hepatitis A can also spread from close personal contact with an infected person, such as household or sexual contacts or caring for someone who is ill.
Since June 2018, the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) has identified hundreds of acute hepatitis A virus (HAV) infections statewide, and the numbers continue to increase. This mirrors the large HAV outbreaks that have been occurring in other states among injection and non-injection drug users, homeless populations, and men who have sex with men (MSM).
The best way to prevent HAV infection is through vaccination with the hepatitis A vaccine. The following groups are at highest risk for acquiring HAV infection or developing serious complications from HAV infection in these outbreaks and should be offered the hepatitis A vaccine:
- People who use drugs (injection or non-injection)
- People experiencing homelessness
- Men who have sex with men (MSM)
- People who are, or were recently, incarcerated
- People with chronic liver disease, including cirrhosis, hepatitis B, or hepatitis
Acute hepatitis A is a reportable condition in Georgia and should be reported immediately to your local public health department or by calling 1-866-PUB-HLTH (1-866-782-4584).
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