Authorities declare Utah’s statewide hepatitis A outbreak officially over

Local News
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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Utah’s statewide hepatitis A outbreak is officially over, according to Utah public health officials.

They say the outbreak which infected 281 people and killed three lasted about two years.

No new cases have been reported in the past 100 days which is two incubation cycles for hepatitis A according to Bree Barbeau an epidemiologist with the Utah Department of Health (UDOH).

She added that the outbreak began on May 8, 2017, and the last case reported was on October 26, 2018.

“The majority of Utah’s outbreak-associated cases occurred in people who live along the Wasatch Front and reported illicit substance use and/or were experiencing homelessness,” said Barbeau.

Authorities say they expect to receive more reports of outbreak-associated with hepatitis A. Their focus will, however, be on monitoring cases and prevention activities which will include vaccinating high-risk populations.  

UDOH officials say they recognize the efforts of private and community partners, federal, state, and local government partners who helped control the large hepatitis A outbreak.

They encourage partners to continue providing hepatitis A vaccination for the homeless and other high-risk groups. This includes people using illicit substances and men who have sex with men.

According to the UDOH, hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with the hepatitis A virus. Signs and symptoms usually appear two to six weeks after exposure and may include:

  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort, especially in the area of your liver on your right side beneath your lower ribs
  • Clay-colored stools
  • Loss of appetite
  • Low-grade fever

They say symptoms can range from a mild illness to a severe illness lasting several months. People usually get hepatitis A by having close contact with someone who is infected, from food or drinks prepared by someone who is infected, or by eating shellfish harvested from sewage-contaminated water.

Sexual contact with someone who is infected can also pose a risk for infection. The hepatitis A vaccine is available through health care providers, local public health department clinics, and pharmacies.

More information about the outbreak is available on the UDOH website.  

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