Sedgwick County looking for source of hepatitis A outbreak, more than 100 cases

Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Local health officials are looking for the source of a hepatitis A outbreak in Sedgwick County.

The Sedgwick County Health Department, Ascension Via Christi and other healthcare providers say more than 100 residents have been diagnosed with the illness since May.

That is a major increase over last year when the were only four cases reported in Sedgwick County.

“We are working closely with the health department to identify cases and determine the source of this outbreak,” Maggie Hagan, MD, said in a joint news release with the county. Hagan is an infectious disease specialist who serves as medical director of Infection Control at Ascension Via Christi. “It is very important that people who are diagnosed with Hepatitis A share a list of everyone with whom they have had close contact so that we can trace and prevent further spread of this disease.”

The hepatitis A virus is found in poop and blood of people who are infected. It spreads through close personal contac or through eating contaminated food or drink.

The health department says more than half of the individuals recently diagnosed with the virus have a history of IV drug use.

From the Sedgwick County Health Department:

Common Symptoms

Common symptoms of the disease include jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), dark urine, stomach pain, nausea and vomiting, and fever. Symptoms usually last less than two months. While most people get better on their own, some people require hospitalization. In rare cases, death can occur. There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A.

If you have symptoms of hepatitis A, contact your medical provider or a local clinic. Your contacts should be vaccinated to prevent the spread of this contagious disease. If you don’t have symptoms, check with a medical provider about vaccination.

Prevention

The best way to prevent hepatitis A is to be vaccinated with the full, two-dose series. People recommended to receive hepatitis A vaccine include children aged 12-23 months and people at an increased risk for infection. Contact your medical provider or the Sedgwick County Health Department (316-660-7300) for vaccination.

In addition to vaccination, prevent infection by washing your hands after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, and before preparing and eating food.

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