What you need to know about the Hepatitis A outbreak in Mississippi

Updated: Jul. 31, 2019 at 11:04 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Cases of Hepatitis A across the U.S. continue to be on the rise with more than 22,000 now confirmed.

Today, state health officials say there’s an outbreak in Mississippi.

The Mississippi State Department of Health is joining other states across the country to fight the spread of Hepatitis A.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers says it’s something we should all take very seriously.

“Hepatitis A is a viral hepatitis. It is very contagious and causes an inflammation of the liver. It can make you pretty sick, but most people can recover without any long term problems,” Dr. Byers explained.

So, how do you get infected with Hepatitis A? Dr. Byers says by consuming contaminated food or water from an infected person.

“It is transmitted person to person. When someone is infected with Hepatitis A, they shed the virus through their stool. People with very close contact can become infected.”

But who are the people most at risk of getting the virus?

“Folks who are homeless, people who are drug users, meaning IV drugs and none IV drug users, people who identify as men who have sex with other men, people who are recently or currently incarcerated,” said Dr. Byers.

Hepatitis A can cause severe abdominal pain, fatigue, vomiting, yellowing of the skin and a loss of appetite.

So far this year, the Mississippi State Department of Health has confirmed 23 cases of Hepatitis A.

But before you panic, here’s how you can steer clear of the virus.

“It is a preventable infection," Dr. Byers said. "The best way to prevent this infection... vaccination! Another way, the good ole fashion washing your hands. That is always going to be one of the key components of preventing infections.”

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