Local ‘Hepatitis A’ Case confirmed by the CDC

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EL CENTRO – The Imperial County Public Health Department announced today that the suspect case of hepatitis A was confirmed by the CDC late last week.  The strain is the same as the one circulating in San Diego, said a press release from the Imperial County Public Health Department.

The individual, who was living in the downtown area of San Diego before arriving in Imperial County, received care at a local facility and has since been released.  There’s no evidence that the individual contracted hepatitis A in Imperial County. Local public health staff conducted an investigation and identified persons who were in contact with this individual to offer the hepatitis A vaccine.  To date, no other cases of Hepatitis A have been identified in Imperial County, said the release.

The Imperial County Public Health Department has completed vaccinating those in close contact with the confirmed case to prevent further spread of hepatitis A in the community.  “It’s important that individuals in Imperial County take appropriate precautions to prevent hepatitis A in our community,” stated Dr. Stephen Munday, County Health Officer, in the press release.  “The best way for at-risk individuals to prevent hepatitis is by getting vaccinated. Frequent handwashing with soap and water after using the bathroom, changing a diaper or before preparing food can also help prevent the spread of hepatitis A.”

Last week, a press release from California Governor Edmund G Brown Jr., declared a state of emergency to help control the state’s hepatitis A outbreak and increase the supply of adult hepatitis A vaccine to meet current needs.  Imperial County Public Health staff is offering presentations on hepatitis A prevention to county and partner agencies that work with the homeless and drug users.  Hepatitis A infection typically causes fever, a general ill feeling with lack of appetite and nausea, and, later in the course of the infection, yellowness of the skin and eyes. Severe hepatitis A infection is rare but does occur in people with underlying liver disease and can cause the liver to fail, potentially leading to death.  More information is available on the Department website at: http://www.icphd.com/health-information-and-resources/healthy-facts/hepatitis-a/

In Imperial County, the hepatitis A vaccine is available at no charge for the homeless at the Imperial County Public Health Department and at local vaccination events. For all other individuals the vaccine is available at local pharmacies, community clinics and with healthcare providers. A limited amount of vaccine is available at the Public Health Department at a cost. Organizations that have contact with the homeless and are looking for vaccine for their staff are encouraged to contact their occupational healthcare provider for additional information. Homeless shelters that would like to arrange vaccination for individuals at their shelter may contact Jovana Araujo, Infectious Disease Prevention Supervisor, at 442-265-1394.