A large outbreak of Hepatitis A infections is ongoing in multiple areas across the United States including California, Kentucky, Utah, Michigan, West Virginia and Indiana. Many of those who have become ill in these outbreaks are homeless and/ or people who abuse drugs. Due to the increasing numbers of Hepatitis A cases nationwide, as well as within the state of Tennessee, the Sullivan County Regional Health Department is raising awareness of Hepatitis A (HAV) infection in populations who are at an increased risk. Sullivan County Regional Health Department will be providing free Hepatitis A vaccine.
Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with the Hepatitis A virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. Hepatitis A is usually spread when a person ingests fecal matter, even in very small amounts. These types of exposures to the Hepatitis A virus can occur by having contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by the feces or stool of an infected person who does not thoroughly wash their hands. It is also spread through sexual contact or touching contaminated objects and then touching the mouth.
Hepatitis A can be prevented with a vaccine and by thorough hand washing using soap and water (Sanitizers may not be effective).
Hepatitis A vaccine is routinely recommended for:
- Persons with chronic liver disease, including those with Hepatitis B or C virus (HBV or HCV) infection
- Users of injection and non-injection illicit drugs
- Men who have sexual contact with men
- Persons traveling to or working in countries that have high or intermediate levels of HAV transmission
Signs and symptoms of Hepatitis A usually appear 2-4 weeks after exposure and can include the following:
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal discomfort
- Dark urine
- Clay-colored bowel movement
- Joint pain
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
Children under 6 years of age with Hepatitis A often do not have or show few signs and symptoms or exposure.
Those suspecting that they have symptoms of Hepatitis A should contact their healthcare provider.
If you believe that you have been exposed to Hepatitis A or at risk for Hepatitis A, please call the Sullivan County Regional Health Department at 423-279-2777 to schedule an appointment.
Persons and healthcare providers with questions or needing more information on Hepatitis A may contact the Sullivan County Regional Health Department at (423) 279-2777.
Did you know that SCRHD currently provides the following services, generally free of charge:
- Hepatitis A vaccine
- Hepatitis B vaccine
- Hepatitis C testing and Referral
- HIV testing and referral
- STI testing and referral
- TB testing and referral
For more information visit: Tennessee Department of Health or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention