Hepatitis A outbreak worsens in Tucson

Pima County experiencing Hep A outbreak

TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - The Hepatitis A outbreak in Arizona is still spreading. Pima County is releasing new numbers on the severity of the outbreak in Tucson.

173 cases have been reported since November, when the virus started spreading rapidly. It was officially declared an outbreak in January 2019. So far this year there have been 263 cases of Hepatitis A in Arizona.

“My uncle, he introduced me to heroin, and it was a good feeling,” said Fredrick Leon.

Leon is homeless, and said he is an alcoholic and drug addict.

“I’m addicted to it, just the drug of choice,” said Leon.

He admitted he has used dirty needles, this, along with being homeless, puts him at a greater risk for contracting Hepatitis A.

“What we see and what we know, is it’s in two high risk populations,” said Paula Mandel, with the Pima County Health Department. “One is our homeless population, and the other are those that use illicit substances.”

The County has mobilized vaccination clinics, offering the vaccine at shelters and local hang-outs for at-risk populations.

“That has been up on our northwest side and Miracle Mile and more here on the south side,” said Mandel.

The mobilization efforts have cost $215,000 since it started in January. The Health Department said the best way to prevent Hepatitis A is for people to get the vaccine and to wash their hands.

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