The state of Georgia is experiencing a statewide viral outbreak. Hepatitis A is spreading across the state as 250 cases of the infection have been identified. That’s more than four times the number of infections in 2017.
The Georgia Department of Public Health says the cases date as far back as June 2018. The number of cases identified is nine times higher than the total of 24 infections identified in 2017, the department said according to a report by First Coast News.
Hepatitis A has been spreading rapidly in areas with a large homeless population. Some cities in California have even taken to bleaching the streets in an attempt to contain the infection.
The Hepatitis A viral infection (HAV) is most commonly spread through close person-to-person transmission through fecal-oral exposure, according to the department. Drug users, homeless populations, and men who have sex with men are the most at risk for HAV, the department says. Although less common, it can also be transmitted through contaminated food, water or other objects.
31 additional cases of the virus have been reported in just the past week. This HAV outbreak is ongoing, and complicated by the E. coli outbreak also ravaging the state of Georgia. According to Northwest Georgia News, health officials also said Wednesday that the number of Georgians hit by an E. coli outbreak has increased to 27, up from 17 a week ago. The CDC late last week identified the probable source of the E. coli as contaminated ground beef.
Two-thirds of the infected Georgian patients have been hospitalized and one has died from the disease. Georgia is one of 18 states currently experiencing a large increase in the number of cases of this highly contagious liver infection. Northwest Georgia News first reported on the Georgia hepatitis A surge last month when it was not quite as severe as it has become.
Symptoms of hepatitis A can include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, fever, diarrhea, and headache. Take precautions to prevent the transmission of the infection if you are a high-risk person. A recommended way to prevent infection is to wash your hands with hot soapy water after using the restroom or changing diapers. You should also wash your hands before and after preparing or eating food, and after contact with animals.