Over the past four months, the Carbon and Emery County areas have had an increase in the number of hepatitis A cases. Hepatitis A is a liver disease that is caused by the hepatitis A virus.
The virus is spread from person-to-person by putting something in the mouth, even though it may look clean. The item which spreads the virus has been contaminated with the stool of a person with hepatitis A.
It usually takes about 30 days from the time a person is exposed to hepatitis A virus to the time a person develops any symptoms.
Person-to-person spread can occur easily in households by not washing hands after changing the diapers of children who are sick with hepatitis A.
Since many young children who are sick with hepatitis A have no symptoms, children who seem well may pass infections to adults or among each other in group settings such as nurseries, playgroups, or daycares.
Spread of the virus could also occur in public settings where hand washing after bathroom use is not consistent. Construction workers using port-a-potties without hand sanitizers are at high risk for contracting the virus.
If symptoms are present, they usually occur abruptly and may include fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea, abdominal discomfort, dark, tea-colored urine, pale, clay-colored stool, and jaundice, or yellowing of the skin and eyes.
All children above the age of two and adults can get vaccinated against hepatitis A. This vaccine is required for school-aged children and has been very successful in preventing infections.
For unvaccinated people who are exposed to hepatitis A, the Southeastern Utah District Health Department can provide immune globulin to prevent illness, as long as it has been 14 days or less since the exposure.
If any Carbon County resident, develops symptoms of hepatitis A, be sure to notify a health care provider as soon as possible.
For more information on hepatitis A contact a health care provider or the Southeastern Utah District Health Department at 435-637-3671.