Health officials warn of the hepatitis A epidemic | Local

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Idaho Public health officials are warning the Idahoans from the epidemic of a hepatitis A after more people have been infected by the virus in just three months than last year.

Public health officials are investigating hepatitis A hepatitis A after 12 people have been infected with the virus since January 1, according to a press release from the Idaho Department of Health and Wellness on Monday. Only 8 people were reportedly infected with hepatitis A last year.

"We are monitoring the situation closely," said epidemiologist Randi Pedersen in the statement. "The best protection is to be vaccinated, but everyone can reduce the risk by practicing good hand hygiene. This means carefully washing your hands after using the bathroom, changing diapers and before preparing or eating food."

The Department of Health and Welfare stated that "the lack of immunity among Idahoans over the age of 30 could play a role in the current epidemic in Idaho".

In addition to closely monitoring the situation, experts are working to identify possible links between the cases and are encouraging those in a high-risk population to get vaccinated.

Although preventable with a vaccine, hepatitis A is a transmissible virus that infects a person's liver, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The virus spreads from person to person when pathogens in faecal particles enter another's mouth or through the consumption of contaminated food or water, says the CDC.

The Idaho Health and Welfare Department states that the virus spreads easily with hand washing, close contact or sex with an infected person, eating or drinking contaminated food and using recreational drugs.

The symptoms of hepatitis A typically occur within two or seven weeks after infection and may include fatigue, fever, poor appetite, stomach pain, nausea, dark urine or pale stools and jaundice – or l & # 39 yellowing of the skin and eyes, according to the CDC.

The Department of Health and Welfare of Idaho recommends a vaccination against hepatitis A for all people with greater risks, including men who have sex with men, people who use drugs (both by injection and not injection) , people living in unstable or homeless housing and people with chronic liver disease including cirrhosis, hepatitis B or hepatitis C.

"Most of the Idahoans reported with hepatitis at this year were so severely ill, they were hospitalized," Pedersen said in the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare release.

The hepatitis A vaccine has been regularly recommended for children since 1999; however, there are many Idahoans over the age of 30 who have not been vaccinated as children and are sensitive to the virus, says the Department of Health and Welfare.

All children under the age of 1 should be vaccinated, says the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

The counties of Idaho with an infection reported for hepatitis A in 2019 include Canyon with two cases, Blaine and Twin with three combined cases and Ada and Elmore with seven combined cases.

No case was reported in the south-east of Idaho, or in the seventh district of public health, which includes the counties of Bannock, Bear Lake, Bingham, Butte, Caribou, Franklin, Oneida and Power.

For more information on hepatitis A and vaccination, contact your doctor or local health district.

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