Hepatitis A Spread - Here's What You Need to Know

Washing hands

Utah is currently one state included in a national outbreak of Hepatitis A. With the end of year spread and local business hepatitis A exposure - here's what you should know about hepatitis A.

In Utah, there has been 152 confirmed cases of hepatitis A virus since January 2017. Typically, Utah sees about five cases in a year since a vaccine was developed in 1995. Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver that is generally passed from person-to-person through contaminated food or water. Although most people recover within a week or so of mild to moderate symptoms, Hepatitis A can cause liver failure and death.

Typical Hepatitis A Symptoms include:

  • Fever fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dark urine
  • Clay-colored stool
  • Joint pain
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)

Although sometimes considered a disease that just affects limited populations, the recent outbreak shows that anyone can be affected. No deaths have occurred in Utah, but the Utah Department of Health reports that 60 percent of those affected have needed to be hospitalized.

The good news is that Hepatitis A is preventable through vaccination and good hand washing. Vaccines are widely available through most medical care providers or pharmacies. A two-shot hepatitis A vaccine is shown to be more than 99 percent effective in preventing the disease for 20 to 25 years. Good hand-washing can not only prevent the spread of Hepatitis A, but can also prevent the spread of other germs and diseases, such as cold and flu.

Intermountain Healthcare continues to be vigilant as well, encouraging proper prevention both in and out of our facilities.
For more information regarding Hepatitis A, please see http://health.utah.gov/hepatitisa or your healthcare provider.