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Hepatitis A outbreak investigation spreads to DeKalb County

An employee at a Cincinnati-area bakery was diagnosed with Hepatitis A.
An employee at a Cincinnati-area bakery was diagnosed with Hepatitis A.
Updated: Dec. 28, 2018 at 10:57 PM CST
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DEKALB COUNTY, AL (WAFF) - The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) is now investigating an increase in hepatitis A in DeKalb County. Lead medical officer Dr. Karen Landers says they are expanding their efforts to get as many people vaccinated as possible.

“We are in the early stages of this investigation, but we need to make sure everyone knows the importance of getting vaccinated and taking health precautions including good hand-washing,” said Landers.

[READ MORE: Hepatitis A outbreak reported in Jackson County]

Landers says while the amount of those who have the virus is low, her team is taking a proactive stance. She says now is the time to educate yourself on the virus and determine the best methods of prevention.

Hepatitis A can spread easily among unvaccinated persons if good hand-washing practices are not observed. ADPH emphasizes that individuals who may be experiencing homelessness, using recreational drugs, sharing drugs or drug paraphernalia, having spent time in jail or prison, or men with same sex partners need to be vaccinated against hepatitis A.

“There are kind of vague symptoms which makes it difficult to diagnose right away," confessed nurse practitioner Erin Percy with Main Street Family Care.

While often confused with common cold symptoms, hepatitis A symptoms may not appear until 15 to 50 days after it was contracted.

Symptoms may include fever, headache, fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, dark urine, or jaundice. If persons are experiencing any of these symptoms, they contact should their healthcare provider and take steps to prevent spreading illness.

To reduce the risk of hepatitis A, get vaccinated, practice good hygiene by washing your hands while cooking and before and after eating, and do not share food, drinks, eating utensils, cigarettes, towels, toothbrushes or drug paraphernalia.

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