Health department sees increase in hepatitis A virus
The Lake County Health Department is informing the public that there has been a recent increase in reported cases of hepatitis A virus (HAV) throughout the State of Illinois and in Lake County.
Since January 2018, the Illinois Department of Public Health has confirmed 110 cases of HAV and has identified 35 cases to be part of a statewide outbreak.
"We encourage any resident who is exhibiting symptoms of HAV to seek medical attention immediately," said Dr. Sana Ahmed, Medical Epidemiologist at the Lake County Health Department. "We also encourage residents at high-risk for infection to get vaccinated for hepatitis A."
HAV is a highly contagious and vaccine-preventable infection. The symptoms of HAV include fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal and joint pain, dark urine, clay-colored stools, and jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes).
Once infected, it may take two to seven weeks before a person shows symptoms of infection. Anyone experiencing symptoms of HAV should call their healthcare provider to get tested. Anyone who is a close contact of a person who has been recently infected with HAV should also get vaccinated.
HAV may spread when a person unknowingly consumes contaminated food or drink prepared or served by an infected person or has direct contact with an infected person.
Groups with high risk for HAV infection include men who have sex with men, people who are homeless, people who are incarcerated, both injection and noninjection drug users, people with direct contact with someone who has HAV, and travelers to countries where HAV is common.
The IDPH recommends the following steps to prevent HAV:
• Get vaccinated.
• Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
• Do not share needles or have sex with someone who has hepatitis A.
• Do not share food, drinks, or cigarettes.
• Do not share eating utensils or personal items.