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Hepatitis on the rise in El Paso County

Posted at 10:48 AM, Dec 04, 2018

COLORADO SPRINGS – El Paso County health officials are now working to curb a recent spike in the number of Hepatitis A cases that we’re seeing in the county.

El Paso County Public Health says seven new cases of the virus have been reported since September. County health workers are stepping up vaccination clinics for people that are considered high-risk. Work is beginning at many of the homeless shelters across the county to help increase awareness of disease prevention.

The Hepatitis A vaccine is readily available at doctor’s offices and many retail outlets. People who need help paying for vaccinations should call El Paso County Public Health, (719) 578-3199.

The hepatitis A vaccine routinely is recommended for children, but most adults have not been vaccinated. Any person wishing to obtain immunity can get vaccinated. Two doses of the vaccine, given six months apart are recommended for:

  • All children at age 1, as a routine childhood immunization.
  • Previously unvaccinated children and adolescents ages 2-18, as a catch-up vaccine.
  • Men who have sexual contact with men.
  • People who use injection and non-injection street drugs.
  • People with chronic liver disease, such as cirrhosis, alcoholic liver disease, hepatitis B or hepatitis C.
  • People who are homeless.
  • People who are traveling to countries where hepatitis A is common.
  • Family members or caregivers of a recent adoptee from countries where hepatitis A is common.
  • People who are treated with blood-clotting factor concentrates.

Hepatitis A symptoms include jaundice, fatigue, severe stomach pain, nausea and diarrhea. People can be contagious for two weeks before symptoms appear, and unknowingly spread the virus. Rarely, the virus can cause liver failure and death. A blood test is the only way to confirm hepatitis A, so people who think they may have the virus should consult a health care provider.

For more information, visit the CDC hepatitis A web page.