If you haven’t heard about a week ago California declared a state of Emergency due to the Hepatitis A outbreak that has spread across California.
Hepatitis or inflammation of the liver can be caused by several factors, from alcohol consumption, to various virus infections. Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C are all common well known viral infections that look similar to each other symptom wise, however, epidemiology speaking, and all three viruses are different. The resent hepatitis A-associated deaths have been very concerning, however it is important to point out that many of the victims have damaged livers from prior alcohol abuse and/ or liver infections.
Who is it affecting?:
- The Homelessness
- Illicit drug users
- People living in limited sanitation
- People who travel to countries with high rates of Hepatitis A.
- People how have sexual contact with people known to have Hepatitis A
How is it spread?:
This Hepatitis outbreak is mostly spread by person-to-person transmission through close contact.
What does it do?
- Jaundice (yellowness of the skin)
- Lack of appetite
- Severe hepatitis A infection is rare but is more common in people with underlying liver disease, and can cause the liver to fail, which can lead to death.
- Children under 6 years of age do not have symptoms or have an unrecognized infection.
Infected people are most contagious during the two weeks before developing yellowness of the skin. The usual time period from exposure to showing symptoms is 15-50 days
How do I prevent it?:
- Hepatitis A vaccination is the main outbreak control and prevention measure.
- Hand washing with water and soap is needed, since waterless hand sanitizers are also not effective.