Cincinnati, OH…… Following four positive diagnoses for hepatitis A in inmates at the Hamilton County Justice Center, the Cincinnati Health Department and Hamilton County Public Health are teaming-up to provide vaccinations to Justice Center staff and inmates at risk of contracting the virus. Through July 31, 152 inmates and staff have been vaccinated.
Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable, communicable disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus. It is usually transmitted person-to-person through the fecal-oral route or consumption of contaminated food or water. It can also be spread through close personal contact with an infected person, such as through sex or caring for someone who is ill. As of July 30, Ohio has reported 176 cases of hepatitis A. Cincinnati reports 10 cases, while the jurisdictions in Hamilton County outside Cincinnati are reporting six.
While hepatitis A is a self-limited disease that does not result in chronic infection, symptoms are often severe enough to require hospitalization. Most adults with hepatitis A have symptoms including fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, and jaundice that usually resolve within two months of infection. Most children less than six years of age do not have symptoms or have an unrecognized infection. Antibodies produced in response to hepatitis A infection last for life and protect against reinfection.
Risk factors for hepatitis A include: persons with direct contact with persons who have hepatitis A; travelers to countries with high or intermediate rates of hepatitis A; men who have sex with men; users of injection and non-injection drugs; persons experiencing homelessness or incarceration; persons with clotting factor disorders; household members and other close contacts of adopted children newly arriving from countries where hepatitis A is common.
“Hepatitis A can be prevented with a vaccination,” says Dr. Marilyn Crumpton, Interim Health Commissioner at the Cincinnati Health Department. “If you are in a risk category, which this group certainly is, vaccination is important in reducing risks of exposure and spread of the disease.”
Hamilton County Health Commissioner Tim Ingram reports that cases of hepatitis A are increasing not only in Hamilton County, but in the Southwest Ohio-Northern Kentucky region. “Our goal is to get this under control. We know that state-wide, 65 percent of these cases require hospitalization. If we act early and provide vaccination to at-risk populations, we can keep hepatitis A from causing more severe damage and prevent costly hospitalizations.”
We appreciate the City and County collaborating with us to bring this under control,” says Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil. “As both Commissioners have said, it’s important to act quickly to get in front of this to avoid complications and costs for hospitalization.”
For more information on hepatitis A, check out our fact sheet.
Posted by: Mike Samet