(6/26/19) CADDO PARISH, La. (KTAL/KMSS) — Louisiana public health officials are investigating a recent outbreak of Hepatitis A cases.
Officials say this recent outbreak mirrors cases happening in other states.
Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection caused by a virus. How it spreads can be alarming. The most common way is a person unknowingly ingests the virus from food and drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of feces that come from an infected person.
“Knowing about outbreaks in the past it typically has to do with food. Contaminated vegetables, from workers who aren’t handling things properly or their water system they used to wash it was contaminated with feces,” said Dewayne Bricker, physician assistant Health Care Express.
As of June 21 of this year, Louisiana reported 305 cases of Hepatitis A.
302 of those cases came from the same outbreak that caused one death. Ouachita and Morehouse Parishes each had between 31 and 45 reported cases. Union, Lincoln, Richland, Caldwell, Tensas, and West Carroll Parishes each had between 1 and 15 cases. Nearly one-third of the cases were found in Livingston Parish.
“So there’s the two week incubation period if you ingest some food with it and about two weeks later you’ll start seeing symptoms of it. Just like any other virus there’s nausea, with a lot of diarrhea, vomiting, stomachaches, chills. All those kinds of things,” Bricker said.
It’s prevented by a vaccine that children usually get at one-years-old. But it only last twenty years.
Bricker said the easiest way to prevent Hepatitis A is knowing where your food comes from, washing your vegetables diligently and cooking them at temperatures over 85 degrees. Along with washing your hands often.
Arkansas had 343 cases of reported Hepatitis A since last year. The Texas Department of Health said their cases have gone down because of vaccines with the latest reported cases being 129 cases in 2017.
Click here to learn more about Hepatitis A.