MAYVILLE, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Chautauqua County Health Department says it has seen an increase in Hepatitis A cases in the county in 2020.
The health department says 19 cases of Hepatitis A have been reported in 2020, from 2017 to 2019 the county experienced an average of one case per year.
“When you hear about Hepatitis A, you may think about contaminated food or water but in this country, it is more commonly spread from person to person,” said Christine Schuyler, Public Health Director. “Vaccination is the best way to prevent infection and the spread of disease and in conjunction with the New York State Department of Health, we are collaborating with community partners to vaccinate close contacts of positive cases as well as people who fall into high-risk groups.”
Officials say Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable liver infection caused by the Hepatitis A virus (HAV).
"This virus is very contagious and is found in the stool and blood of people who are infected. HAV is spread when someone unknowingly ingests the virus – even in microscopic amounts – through close personal contact with an infected person or through eating contaminated food or drink. This happens when an infected person doesn’t properly wash his or her hands with warm water and soap after going to the bathroom and touches objects or food that someone else then eats or drinks. Besides this, the virus also spreads through close person-to-person contact with an infected person and having sex with an infected person," a release from the health department says.
The symptoms of Hepatitis A can be mild and only last a few weeks or severe and last several months. The symptoms include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movements, joint pain, and yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice).
Officials say anyone experiencing Hepatitis A symptoms should contact their health care provider for advice. If you do not have a health care provider and would like a free Hepatitis A vaccine you can contact the Chautauqua County Health Department at 1-866-604-6789.