News Flash

Springfield-Greene County Health Department News Releases

Posted on: September 16, 2019

Sept 16, 2019 - Health Department Warns of Increase in Hepatitis A Cases

Hepatitis A

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department is warning residents of an increase in Hepatitis A cases in recent weeks, and asking that the public be alert for signs and symptoms of the illness.

Since April of this year, there have been 25 cases of Hepatitis A in Greene County.

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection caused by the Hepatitis A virus. It can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. There have been deaths elsewhere in the state.

What You Can Do

Hepatitis A is easily transmitted via person-to-person contact, like eating or drinking after someone, sharing a cigarette or sex.

The best way to protect yourself and others from Hepatitis A is by getting vaccinated. Know your vaccination status and the status of your loved ones.

Practice good hand hygiene. Thoroughly wash hands frequently but especially after using the bathroom, changing diapers and before preparing or eating food. Encourage anyone you know who is sick to seek medical attention.

Hepatitis A in Food Service

Hepatitis A in the restaurant setting in particular puts others at risk. Food service workers are urged to know the signs and symptoms of the illness and avoid working while sick. Early identification of an individual with the Hepatitis A virus can also help stop the spread of illness.

While Greene County has not had a diagnosed case of Hepatitis A in a food service worker, this is a good reminder of the very real risk that Hepatitis A can pose to our community, especially if a person in food service were to work while sick. Both Franklin County and Douglas County, Missouri officials have conducted mass vaccination clinics in recent months after food service workers potentially exposed thousands to the illness.

What to Look For

Symptoms of Hepatitis A can include:

  • jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • fever
  • fatigue
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • abdominal pain
  • dark urine
  • light-colored bowel movements
  • joint pain

You can view up-to-date information on Hepatitis A in our county, the state and the U.S. at health.springfieldmo.gov/HepA

Those Especially at Risk

A nationwide outbreak of Hepatitis A has been ongoing since September 2017. While everyone has the potential to come into contact with the virus, there have been certain groups identified who seem more at-risk.

Those most at risk have been:

  • persons who use recreational drugs;
  • persons experiencing homelessness;
  • a man who has sex with men;
  • persons in treatment or counseling for substance abuse;
  • persons receiving drug substitution treatment and/or participate in drug court;
  • persons who work or have been detained in jail or a detention center; and
  • persons who have close contact with the above group(s) or a confirmed hepatitis A case.

These groups qualify for no-cost vaccination at the Health Department. More information on this vaccine opportunity is available at health.springfieldmo.gov/HepA or by calling 417-864-1658.

Facebook Twitter Email