The Ohio Health Department has declared a statewide outbreak of Hepatitis A.
Already this year, they’ve seen 79 cases, which is nearly double what they saw the entire year before.
These days, every one-year-old child generally gets a Hepatitis A shot as part of their routine vaccines, and a booster at age 18 months, which provides lifelong protection.
But the shots are a fairly recent development.
Many adults have never had the vaccine.
Belmont County Health Department Nurse Linda Mehl says certain individuals in high-risk groups are strongly urged to get the vaccine.
Those include illegal drug users, anyone with liver disease including Hepatitis B or C, men who have sex with men and families who adopted an overseas child.
But she says there are other risk factors that apply to almost everyone–like those who eat at restaurants, or those who might take a vacation out of the country.
She says Hepatitis A can cause symptoms like abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, fever and jaundice, or it may cause no symptoms at all.
Mehl says a restaurant employee could have Hepatitis A and not know it, and if they use the rest room and fail to wash their hands and then prepare your food, it could easily be transmitted.
She says it’s not a bad idea to check with your doctor or your county health department if you’d like to get a Hepatitis A shot.
She says it’s a safe vaccine–the only reaction is a possible sore arm.