TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - An outbreak of Hepatitis A infections in neighboring Pima County has prompted local health officials to remind residents of the steps they can take to prevent contracting or spreading the illness.
Cochise Health & Social Services has also confirmed one case of Hepatitis A in Cochise County, believed to be related to the outbreak in Pima County. That person, who is from the Sierra Vista area, has been treated in Pima County and the Cochise health department has conducted its own inquiry.
“A contact investigation has been completed, which means we have interviewed anyone who may have come into contact with this person and addressed any concerns,” said Cochise Health & Social Services director Carrie Langley. “We are also reaching out to local health providers and reminding them to be aware of the symptoms related to Hepatitis A and the precautions that can be taken. This is an entirely preventable illness through vaccination.”
Cochise Health & Social Services will also be conducting outreach to vulnerable populations, such as the homeless, who are at a heightened risk. The outbreak in Pima County has mainly impacted this group.
“We are advising anyone with concerns to speak to their health provider about the vaccination,” said Langley. “Our department also offers vaccinations to anyone who is under or uninsured through our Vaccines for Adults Program, and we will offer them to children regardless of their insurance status through our Vaccines for Children’s Program.”
Hepatitis A spreads when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food, or drinks contaminated by unperceivable amounts of stool from an infected person. It can also spread from close personal contact with an infected person, such as through sex or caring for someone who is ill.
Symptoms in adults and older children include:
- Sudden onset of loss of appetite
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
- Dark colored urine
- Clay colored stool
- Joint pain
Young children with Hepatitis A often have no or mild symptoms.
In addition to ensuring they are vaccinated, residents are reminded to:
- Wash hands with soap and water after going to the bathroom and before eating or making food.
- Avoid having sex with anyone who has Hepatitis A
- Not share towels, toothbrushes, eating utensils, food, drinks, cigarettes, e-cigarettes or drug paraphernalia with others.
- Immediately contact a health provider if they experience symptoms.
For further information contact your local health provider or Cochise Health & Social Services at (520) 432-9400.