West Virginia hit by hepatitis A outbreak

According to officials in the Cabell-Huntington County Health Department in West Virginia, there are currently 11 confirmed cases of vaccine-preventable hepatitis A virus in the state, which includes both children and adults.

The agency has held two free vaccination clinics and has vaccinated 236 people to date. No source for the outbreak has yet been identified, the Food Poison Journal reports.

One of the two clinics, held on Tuesday in the late afternoon and early evening, was given to educate and vaccinate community members who might be at risk for infection.

The West Virginia Health Department is trying to identify all possible contacts with the virus. It recommends that all of those exposed to a confirmed hepatitis A case within the last two weeks should receive prophylaxis in the form of a vaccine or an immune globulin.

Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable foodborne disease that can cause illness in the liver. While it does not lead to chronic hepatitis or cirrhosis of the liver like hepatitis B and hepatitis C, hepatitis A may still lead to acute liver failure and death. Symptoms include headache, muscle aches, abdominal discomfort, malaise, and loss of appetite and fever, which can occur between 15 and 50 days after exposure. After a few days of these symptoms, jaundice, dark urine, and light or clay-colored stool may occur as well.