More Hepatitis A vaccines are being given to the medical community in Jackson County as the investigation into the outbreak continues.
Dr. Karen Landers with the state public health department says so far there have been seven reported cases of Hepatitis A in Jackson County, though that number could change. There have not been any reported cases in the surrounding counties.
As for what’s next in the investigation, Landers is working to interview those who have the virus as well as people they may have come into contact with. Hepatitis A is a serious liver disease and is spread through the feces of an infected person. Landers says it’s primarily transmitted on hands, but also by mouth.
“Smoking cigarettes or drinking or eating after a person,” she said. “Or even smoking an illegal substance and, again, having other people to share that. That’s a way, transmitting hand to mouth.”
Landers says the medical community in Jackson County is stocking up on the vaccine. People at risk for getting the virus include those who are homeless, use illegal drugs, or are men that have same-sex sexual partners.
But Landers says there are more people who may want to think about getting vaccinated to play it safe during an outbreak.
“Persons who might work in populations such as homeless shelters or corrections facilities or law enforcement,” she listed. “International travel to third-world countries is a risk factor for Hepatitis A. We have to be aware that contact with international adoptees from third-world countries up to 60 days after that contact can increase the risk for Hepatitis A.”
If you want to get the vaccine talk to your doctor or local pharmacist. Children are usually vaccinated for Hepatitis A and Landers says you don’t need to worry about it if you’re not in the outbreak area.