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Hepatitis A Outbreak Reported in Illinois
By West Kentucky Star Staff
SOUTHERN ILLINOIS - Southern Illinoisans are being cautioned about an outbreak of hepatitis A in the state. 

Since September of 2018, the Illinois Department of Public Health has identified 177 cases of Hepatitis A in Illinois, including one death, according to the Southern Seven Health Department.  

Of the two cases found in the lower seven counties of Illinois, both were reported in Union County. 

Nationwide, there have been over 29,000 cases and over 300 deaths across 30 states.

HAV is a highly contagious, vaccine-preventable liver infection that spreads from person-to-person through ingestion of food, water, or oral contact with objects contaminated by feces of an infected person. Transmission occurs easily among sexual and close household contacts, and persons sharing needles and non-injected drugs. 

Symptoms of HAV can include jaundice, diarrhea, pale-colored stools, stomach pain, dark urine, nausea, feeling tired, loss of appetite and fever. The infection may last a few weeks to several months. Other victims, especially if also infected with hepatitis B or C, may develop liver failure, resulting in death. 

Southern Seven suggests that the best way to prevent Hepatitis A is through a series of two vaccinations to anyone at least a year old. A vaccine can be ordered and administered through Southern Seven Health Department.  

Unvaccinated individuals with recent exposure should receive the Hepatitis A vaccine or a shot of immune globulin to prevent severe illness.  There is no treatment for hepatitis A other than treating symptoms through rest, fluids and adequate nutrition. 

Good hand hygiene, including thoroughly washing hands after using the bathroom, and avoiding high risk behaviors also play an important role in preventing the spread of infection.

For more information, call Southern Seven Health Department at 618-634-2297 or visit dph.illinois.gov. 

Published 09:30 AM, Wednesday Jan. 08, 2020
Updated 04:32 AM, Thursday Jan. 09, 2020

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