Hidden epidemic lurking behind Hep A outbreak in NEA

Hidden epidemic lurking behind Hep A outbreak in NEA
Hepatitis A in Northeast Arkansas (Source: KATV)

LITTLE ROCK, AR (KAIT/KATV) - This year, Arkansas has recorded the highest number of Hepatitis A cases.

As Little Rock television station KATV reports, since February, the state has recorded more than 200 cases of Hep A.

But nearly a third of those who tested positive for Hep A also tested positive for Hep C.

Half of the state’s Hep A cases this year have required hospitalizations.

Hep C remains the overall larger threat.

“It’s self-limited most of the time,” said Doctor Ryan Dare with University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. “You end up with a diarrheal illness and it goes away and you’re actually protected, you have immunity that protects you for the rest of your life. You clear the virus essentially. Hepatitis C on the other hand is a virus that once you contract, you live with it for life unless we provide treatment to get rid of it.”

Dare said it is a public health miracle that within 20 years of discovering Hep C, researchers have already come up with a cure.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that baby boomers be tested for Hep C at least once in their lifetime.

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