There’s a Hepatitis A Outbreak in NJ: How to Avoid It
There’s an outbreak of hepatitis A in the Garden State.
According to state epidemiologist Dr. Tina Tan, this is a problem “particularly among people who are reporting homelessness, drug use, men who have sex with men, and recent incarceration."
She said since December of last year, “we’ve seen over 300 cases of hepatitis A associated with this outbreak associated with these risk groups."
Dr. Tan also noted three deaths have also been associated with hepatitis A this year in New Jersey.
Hepatitis A is a liver infection that can be serious, with multiple symptoms.
“Some of those can include yellow skin or eyes, fever, tiredness, poor appetite," Tan said. "You can see your urine turning really dark color, stomach pain, diarrhea and vomiting.”
She said hepatitis A will spread from person to person in various ways, but frequently “when you have an infected person who does not wash their hands properly after using the bathroom and then touch food that’s eaten by someone else, that’s one way of infecting others.”
She pointed out there is a hepatitis A vaccine, and the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends several different groups get immunized — including all children when they reach the age of 1, as well as those who are homeless or having unprotected sex with strangers, and individuals traveling to foreign countries where there are high rates of hepatitis A.
She said if you suspect you have hepatitis A “or if you’ve come into contact with someone who has been diagnosed with hepatitis A, definitely please contact your healthcare provider as soon as you can.”
She said his can be very beneficial because “getting a hepatitis A vaccine within two weeks after you’ve been exposed, can potentially prevent you from getting sick.”
She stressed washing your hands with soap and warm water can prevent the spread of hepatitis A and other viruses.