Virginia officials warning public about increase of hepatitis A cases

RICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia Department of Health wants people to be aware and careful after an increase of hepatitis A (HAV) cases being reported in the state.

Officials say Virginia has reported a 132% increase in cases of HAV between January 1, 2019, and April 19, 2019, compared to the same time period in 2018. There have been 45 cases reported in Virginia as of April 22, 2019.

“The increase in HAV cases in Virginia indicates that the Commonwealth is now experiencing the effects of this nationwide outbreak,” said State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, MD, MA. “We want everyone to know how the infection is spread, be able to recognize the symptoms, and take actions to prevent the spread of hepatitis A.”

Symptoms of HAV include jaundice, which is a yellowing of the skin or the eyes, contracting a fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, joint pain, dark urine and clay-colored stools. Officials say symptoms can develop in a person between 15-50 days after exposure to the virus.

HAV is spread through direct contact with another person who has the infection or by consuming food or drink that has been contaminated with the virus.

Those who stand to be the most at risk to contracting HAV are injection and non-injection drug users; anyone experiencing or who have recently experienced homelessness; men who have sex with men (MSM); and people who are or were recently incarcerated, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

Hepatitis A vaccine is available at many doctor’s offices, pharmacies and local health departments across the state. In Virginia, local health departments, in conjunction with community partners, are working to increase hepatitis A vaccination rates statewide.

For more information about HAV, click here.

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