Medical Minutes: Hepatitis A epidemic
Recently, the Ohio Department of Health has declared Ohio as having a hepatitis A epidemic. According to Joseph Gastaldo M.D., medical director of Infectious Diseases at OhioHealth, it is not only Ohio that struggles with an abundance of hepatitis A outbreaks, but all states surrounding Ohio as well.
“Hepatitis A is something we are seeing more of, especially in certain segments of the population. Specifically homeless people, people who use any form of recreational drugs, whether that be IV drugs or not, men who have sex with men and anyone who has exposure to another who has hepatitis A,” said Gastaldo.
With an epidemic like this one, the most important thing to remember is that you can help protect yourself. There are ways to limit your risk of contracting hepatitis A.
“Hand hygiene is a paramount important thing to do to protect yourself against hepatitis A,” Gastaldo said. “Wash your hands before and after you use the restroom, wash your hands before you eat and wash your hands after coming into contact with anyone who may have Hepatitis A.”
Hepatitis A is an extremely contagious illness. We are usually able to tell when are bodies are sick, we can pretty easily identify having a cold or the flu, but Hepatitis A is not as familiar.
“Most adults with hepatitis A will become sick with jaundice, they will appear yellow and have yellow in their eyes. They will also experience changes in the color of their urine and stool,” said Gastaldo.
Hepatitis A is contracted one of two ways. Through the ingestion of fecal material, and yes, there are many things in the world that are actually covered with fecal material that we don’t know about and take for granted. The second way is through sexual transmission. When people have hepatitis A, they can be asymptomatic for up to 28 days and during that time, they can spread the infection to others.