A multi-state outbreak of Hepatitis A has health departments concerned across the country and in West Virginia.
The Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department said there are no current cases of Hepatitis A in Ohio County or in the Northern Panhandle.
However, there are well over 100 cases in West Virginia.
The West Virginia DHHR announced late Thursday afternoon that the death of a 33-year-old Kanawha County resident has been linked to the outbreak.
Most of West Virginia’s cases are in the Southern Part of the state in areas like Kanawha as we just mentioned as well as Cabell and Putnam Counties.
The CDC currently does not recommend that all food service workers get the Hepatitis A vaccination, but the West Virginia DHHR and health departments in Southern West Virginia are recommending it for areas affected.
“In our jurisdiction in Ohio County we would encourage it,” said Howard Gamble, an administrator with the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department. “If individuals are working in food service we would encourage it, but it’s not part of the recommended status right now. That’s only for the Southern part of the state.”
The Wheeling – Ohio County Health Department is vaccinating the area’s homeless population for Hepatitis A, as is recommended by the CDC.
“Those are one of the populations teh CDC identifies as should receive the Hepatitis A vaccine,” Gamble said. “Homeless or mobile populations, individuals who inject drugs, people who are incarcerated, men having sex with men, those are the categories we typically recommend they should get vaccine for Hepatitis A.”
The health department will also discuss the vaccine with any individuals who are interested.
Hepatitis A is a fecal to oral transmission and can be contracted as a result of bad hand washing.
‘If you’re using gloves, change them frequently when you move from product to product,” Gamble recommended. “Wash your hands after you use the restroom before you handle any ready to eat food or start prepping food.”
For more information, visit the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department’s website at ohiocountyhealth.com.