Hepatitis A outbreak gets state leaders talking

Hepatitis A outbreak gets state leaders talking

JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - Following the Hepatitis outbreak in Region 8, state leaders spoke about the issue and its impact on Northeast Arkansas.

Senate and House Public Health, Welfare, and Labor committee members were in Jonesboro Monday to discuss several items. One item in particular involved Hepatitis A.

The Arkansas Department of Health presented information for the state leaders and people in the audience.

Chief Epidemiologist Dr. Michael Cima for the department of health said its impact on Region 8 wasn’t necessarily only spread by food.

“We’ve had 421 cases and only 5 percent of those have been food handlers,” he said. “The rest of them have been among high-risk populations, those people who are using and injecting drugs, people who are homeless and people who are having sex with men.”

The outbreaks made the department act quickly by having 33 mass vaccination clinics in the affected counties and 27 clinics in jails.

A total of 35,000 vaccines were given and it came at a cost, according to ADH, of $4.7 million.

Cima says it’s important to be proactive in vaccinations instead of regretting it later.

“The best thing we can all do to stop the spread of Hepatitis A through our communities is to get vaccinated and to remain vigilant,” he said. “If you suspect that you’re ill with Hepatitis A or symptoms consistent with Hepatitis A, to see your doctor immediately.”

The ADH released an updated awareness map highlighting areas Hepatitis A is affected. To see that map, click here.

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