TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - Cochise County is currently experiencing a county-wide Hepatitis A Outbreak: Since March 2019 Cochise County has confirmed five cases of Hepatitis A among individuals with risk factors.
Community-wide hepatitis A outbreaks have been reported in multiple states since 2017, including a large ongoing outbreak in Pima County, disproportionately impacting individuals experiencing homelessness.
Public Health is currently working throughout the community to prevent the further spread of this disease. We have activated community engagement teams and will be following the process for the next several months.
Hep A is a vaccine-preventable infectious disease that typically spreads from person-to-person via fecal-oral contact. Hepatitis A can be spread via contaminated needles and other drug paraphernalia, sexual contact, or unsanitary living conditions. It can also be spread through contact with food or objects infected individuals have had contact with. Infected individuals shed the virus in their stool for up to two weeks prior to developing symptoms and for up to one week after developing jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes).
Symptoms may include abrupt onset of fever, abdominal pain, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite, usually followed by jaundice within a few days. Although hepatitis A infection is typically self-limiting, it can lead to serious outcomes, including death when it affects individuals with other underlying conditions.
Per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, individuals who have increased risk for hepatitis A infection include:
- Persons experiencing homelessness
- Persons who use drugs (injection and non-injection drugs)
- Persons with direct contact with individuals infected with hepatitis A
- Individuals who are incarcerated, or previously incarcerated within the past six months
The best way to prevent hepatitis A is through vaccination with the hepatitis A vaccine. Hand-washing is another essential step to prevent passing on the infection.
Hepatitis A vaccine is very effective in disease prevention. The vaccine is given in two doses, with the second dose being provided six months after the first.
Talk to a healthcare provider about vaccination. They can also obtain vaccination at various pharmacies.
Cochise Health and Social Services will offer no-cost, adult-only hepatitis A vaccinations at the Bisbee clinic (1415 Melody Lane, Building A) on Friday, May 17 from 10 am to 2 pm. No appointment is necessary for this walk-in clinic. It is very important to note that children who are up-to-date with their scheduled vaccinations have already received the hep A vaccine.
For further information, please call Cochise Health and Social Services toll free at 1-833-670-5786.