The Ohio Department of Heath declared a statewide community outbreak of hepatitis A after observing an increase in cases linked to certain risk factors since the beginning of 2018.
Since January 2018 to February 11, 2019, Ohio has seen 1,657 cases of hepatitis A according the Ohio Health Department.
Sixty percent of those people with the virus in Ohio were hospitalized, and five people have died.
Sixty-eight of the 88 counties in Ohio have had confirmed cases of hepatitis A, and four counties have seen more than 90 cases each. The ODH issued the outreak alert in June of 2018.
Franklin County is one of them and has 223 confirmed cases of hepatitis A as of February 11, 2019.
In January 2019 Fuzzy’s Taco Shop in the Arena District and in February 2019 Eddy’s Chicken and Waffles on East Livingston both had one employee with Hepatitis A.
Columbus Public Health in both cases urged people who were at those restaurants to get the hepatitis A vaccine as soon as possible.
They will be giving free hepatitis A vaccines on February 18 from 11am-3pm at Columbus Public Health, 240 Parsons Ave., Columbus.
Columbus Public Health says hepatitis A vaccinations are available from healthcare providers and retail pharmacies. They’ve set up an information line you can call with questions at 614-645-1474, option 3.
“Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable liver disease that is spread when hands, food or objects contaminated with stool are put in the mouth. It can be spread by close contact with a person who is sick with hepatitis A, eating food prepared by a person with hepatitis A, or sex with a person with hepatitis A,” Columbus Public Health said in a press release. “Getting vaccinated and practicing proper handwashing is the best way to prevent hepatitis A.
The CDC says the vaccine is effective if given within the first two weeks after exposure. Symptoms of hepatitis A include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, diarrhea, clay-colored stool, joint pain, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes). If symptoms occur, the CDC says they usually start appearing four weeks after exposure, but can occur as early as two and as late as seven weeks after the initial exposure. Symptoms develop usually over a period of several days.