Hepatitis A questions directed to health department

By Erin Perkins - eperkins@aimmediamidwest.com

MASON COUNTY — The Mason County Health Department reported there is currently no threat of hepatitis A in Mason County.

Jennifer Thomas, nursing director and administrator at the Mason County Health Department, reported she has received phone calls from Mason County residents who have issued concerns of possible exposure to hepatitis A regarding the outbreak which recently originated in Ashland, Ky.

The Ashland-Boyd County Health Department reported an individual who prepared food, primarily fried foods during his infectious period, at the Texas Roadhouse located on 500 Block of Winchester Road in Ashland was the source of hepatitis A exposure.

Thomas explained the exposure date range was from March 20 to April 12. She commented today (Thursday) would be the last possible day to receive a vaccination in order to prevent the disease as the vaccination is only effective up to two weeks after exposure.

Thomas said the Mason County Health Department currently has hepatitis A vaccines for children 18 and under. Local pharmacies can get the vaccination in for adults.

Thomas recommended individuals concerned with possible exposure to the disease should consult with their physicians on how to pursue the issue.

According to The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, hepatitis A is a communicable disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). It is usually transmitted person-to-person through the fecal-oral route or consumption of contaminated food or water.

The CDC explained hepatitis A is a self-limited disease that does not result in chronic infection. Most adults with hepatitis A have symptoms, including fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, and jaundice, that usually resolve within two months of infection. Most children less than 6 years of age do not have symptoms or have an unrecognized infection.

The CDC said if symptoms occur, they usually start appearing four weeks after exposure, but can occur as early as two and as late as seven weeks after exposure. The symptoms usually develop over a period of several days and usually last less than two months, although some people (10-15 percent) with hepatitis A can have symptoms for as long as six months.

The CDC explained unvaccinated individuals who have been exposed recently, within two weeks, to the hepatitis A virus should get the hepatitis A vaccine or a shot of immune globulin to prevent severe illness. In order to treat the symptoms of hepatitis A, doctors usually recommend rest, adequate nutrition, and fluids; however, some people will need medical care in a hospital. It can take a few months before people with hepatitis A begin to feel better.


By Erin Perkins


Erin Perkins is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, extension 1992.

Erin Perkins is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, extension 1992.