UPDATE: Additional hepatitis A vaccine clinics announced

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KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- UPDATE 7/3/18 @ 1:09 p.m.
Health officials have scheduled additional walk-in hepatitis A vaccination clinics in Kanawha County.

The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department is working with the Kanawha County Emergency Ambulance Authority (KCEAA) to provide the vaccine for high-risk people in response to the national Hep A outbreak that is affecting hundreds in the tri-state.

New clinics:

Orchard Manor and Washington Manor
Thursday, July 5
9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Littlepage Terrace and South Park Village
Friday, July 6
9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Free vaccines will be given to food service workers, the homeless, those with close personal contact (including sexual) to someone who is homeless or using drugs, those with household contact to someone who is homeless or using drugs, anyone who was exposed to the disease or came in contact with someone who has hepatitis A, those who were recently incarcerated, and anyone who provides direct services to the homeless or people using drugs.

The West Virginia Bureau for Public Health bought an additional $550,000 worth of the vaccine to support local health department clinics.

KCHD is supplying the vaccine and KCEAA officials are administering them.

The health department will bill for the cost of the vaccine for anyone who has insurance that covers it. Payments for copays and deductibles are not required.

"Qualifying underinsured individuals and those without insurance will receive the vaccinations free of charge," health officials stated in a press release.

You will have to fill out paperwork before you get the vaccine. The wait time at previous clinics has been about 10 minutes or less according to health department officials.

Anyone who is 18 or younger must have a parent or guardian with him/her.

Health officials want to remind people that hepatitis A transmission and the risk to the public "remains low."

UPDATE 6/21/18 @ 2:28 p.m.
More people had an opportunity to get vaccinated for hepatitis A Thursday, thanks to a Kanawha-Charleston Health Department vaccination clinics.

They offered free vaccinations for those who may be at risk for contracting hepatitis A.

Some of those risks include anyone who is homeless, a food service worker and those who have been exposed to someone else who has hepatitis A

UPDATE 6/14/18 @ 1:05 p.m.
New cases of hepatitis A have been confirmed in Kanawha and Putnam counties.

According to the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, two more food service workers have been diagnosed.

Health department officials say an employee at the Taco Bell in the 4000 block of WV-34 in Hurricane was diagnosed as well as an employee at the Pizza Hut in the 5000 block of MacCorkle Ave. in Charleston.

These cases are considered to be part of the hepatitis A outbreak that began in February. Health department officials say the local cases have been linked to a national outbreak.

The infectious period when the Taco Bell employee was working is May 19 to June 12. The infectious period for the Pizza Hut employee is May 26 to June 11.

Customers who ate or drank at the restaurants during those periods should consider getting the hepatitis A vaccine.

As a precaution, family members and co-workers of those two employees are getting the vaccine per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) protocols, health department officials said.

"The possibility of transmission is present only when the employee was working at the facility," health department officials stated in a press release. "West Virginia has been identified by the CDC as part of a multistate hepatitis A outbreak. Transmission in cases in states involved with the outbreak has been by person-to person contact occurring primarily among the homeless or those using injection and non-injection drugs and their close direct contacts."

The disease is spread by person-to-person contact and health department officials say it's primarily occurring among the homeless and drug-using populations.

Health department officials say the Bureau for Public Health is providing free hepatitis A vaccines for "high-risk groups in outbreak counties."

"Vaccinations are available to the following groups: homeless, close personal contact (including sexual) to someone who is homeless or using drugs, household contact to someone who is homeless or using drugs, exposure or contact to someone who has hepatitis A, food service workers, recently incarcerated and direct service providers to the homeless and people who use drugs," health officials stated. "The health department screens for insurance eligibility before using the state-supplied vaccine. Additional information can be found on the health department website www.kchdwv.org or by calling the health department at 304-348-8050."

UPDATE 6/5/18 @ 11:19 a.m.
The Kanawha County Emergency Ambulance Authority is offering another chance to get your hepatitis A vaccine.

On Friday, June 8, they will be set up at Dunbar City Hall from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. to administer hepatitis A shots.

The clinic is free to the public.

As of the end of May, there were more than 120 cases of hep A in West Virginia, according to state officials. So far, 6 food service workers have been diagnosed in Kanawha and Putnam counties.

Hepatitis A is primarily spread among IV drug users and because of poor hygiene. Proper hand washing is one of the best ways to avoid spread of the virus.

UPDATE 5/30/18 @ 2:24 p.m.
A food service worker in Charleston, West Virginia has been diagnosed with hepatitis A according to the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department.

This case is at the Cold Spot in the 4000 block of Washington St. West.

This makes the 6th food worker case in Kanawha County during this year's outbreak.

Family members and co-workers of the patient are getting the hepatitis A vaccine as a precaution.

UPDATE 5/24/18 @ 4:40 p.m.
There are now 121 cases of hepatitis A in West Virginia according to state health officials.

The West Virginia DHHR released the growing number Thursday afternoon.

Health officials say 80% of those cases are in Kanawha and Putnam counties. 10% are in Cabell County and the remaining 10% are in other counties.

That total number includes cases that have been reported since Jan. 1.

Hepatitis A is primarily spread among IV drug users and because of poor hygiene. Proper hand washing is one of the best ways to avoid spread of the virus.

UPDATE 5/17/18 @ 5:05 p.m.
Two more hepatitis A cases have been confirmed by the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department.

They are at Buck's Pizza in Nitro and the American Inn in Hurricane.

Earlier on Thursday, the health department identified another hepatitis A case at the McDonald's in Hurricane.

The latest diagnosed cases mark more than 100 hepatitis A cases that have been confirmed since January in an outbreak affecting Kanawha and Putnam counties, the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department says.

Hepatitis A is primarily spread among IV drug users and because of poor hygiene. Proper hand washing is one of the best ways to avoid spread of the virus.

Keep checking WSAZ Mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 5/15/18 @ 3:35 p.m.
Another hepatitis A case has been confirmed at a restaurant in Kanawha County, the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department says.

The most recent case is at O’Charley’s at 70 RHL Boulevard in Charleston.

According to the KCHD, it is the third hepatitis A case involving food service workers in Kanawha County.

The agency reports the employee did not work at the restaurant after the hepatitis A diagnosis but worked while infected from April 27 through May 11. Co-workers and family members have been vaccinated as a precaution.

The KCHD says the threat of transmission to restaurant customers is considered low. It also says proper hand washing is the best way to prevent the spread of the disease. Vaccinations are an option to consider.

In Kanawha and Putnam counties, more than 80 cases of acute hepatitis A have been investigated by the health department. It reports that the Bureau for Public Health is providing free hepatitis A vaccine for outbreak counties.



UPDATE 5/9/18 @ 1:20 p.m.
A food service worker in Kanawha County has been diagnosed with hepatitis A according to officials with the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department (KCHD).

This makes more than 70 cases of acute hepatitis A under investigation in Kanawha and Putnam counties.

The case is at the Taco Bell on East Dupont Ave. in Belle.

Health officials say this is the second case in Kanawha County involving a food establishment since the outbreak began in February.

The employee stopped working at the restaurant after he/she was diagnosed.

However, health officials say the employee was working during the infectious period of April 11-27.

Family members and co-workers of the employee have received the hepatitis A vaccine as a precaution.

The KCHD outbreak team met with local and corporate Taco Bell officials. Inspectors spend several day observing food handling practices and talking with employees.

The team found no unsafe food handling practices that would warrant the health department telling customers to get the vaccine because of possible exposure.

"The risk of transmission to the public is low, and at this time KCHD is not issuing a health advisory for people who ate at the restaurant to get vaccinated," health officials stated in a press release. "According to Janet Briscoe, Director of Epidemiology, transmission to the public by a food handler is uncommon if restaurant employees follow proper handwashing requirements and wear gloves. Food handlers are not at increased risk for Hepatitis A because of their occupation unless they have identified risk factors or personal contact with a person who has risk factors. To date, several cases of Hepatitis A have occurred in households where family members had close association."

Although the risk is "extremely low" according to health officials, the health department does recommend that anyone who had food or drinks at this Taco Bell during the infectious period monitor for symptoms.

Symptoms of hepatitis A include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, light colored stools, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes). If symptoms occur, seek medical attention.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says West Virginia, Kentucky, California, Indiana, Michigan, and Utah are part of a multistate outbreak of the disease.

"Transmission in cases in these states has been by person-to person contact occurring primarily among persons who are homeless, persons who use injection and non-injection drugs and their close direct contacts," KCHD officials stated. "According to the CDC website, the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health has seen an increase in the number of confirmed cases of acute hepatitis A virus since March 2018. The state outbreak has spread to four other counties according to the BPH website. This increase in cases has primarily been among IV and non-IV drug users, homeless or transient individuals, those who have been recently incarcerated, and those who are also infected with Hepatitis C. Viral sequencing has linked several cases with outbreaks in Kentucky and California."

For more information, you can visit http://www.kchdwv.org or call the health department at 304-348-1088,

UPDATE 5/3/18 @ 5:00 p.m.
The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department is now investigating more than 60 possible cases of hepatitis A in Kanawha and Putnam counties.

Health officials say the number of cases is growing daily.

Cases in these areas have been linked to an ongoing multistate outbreak.

Two cases are possibly linked to Dupont Middle School. The health department and the Kanawha Board of Education are investigating. Officials are also educating parents and staff about precautions they need to take.

Health officials say the disease is generally not spread by casual contact. However, it can live on surfaces for months. Hepatitis A is detected in stool and can be spread through "close personal contact with someone who has the illness or from encountering food or surfaces and unknowingly ingesting even microscopic particles of contaminated human waste."

Good hand washing can help prevent the spread of hepatitis A and other diseases. However, health officials say getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent it.

"People may experience mild to severe symptoms," health department officials stated in a press release Thursday. "Children less than six years of age may have no symptoms. Once the acute phase of the illness passes, a person becomes immune. People with underlying health conditions, particularly those with chronic liver diseases such as alcoholic cirrhosis, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C may require hospitalization."

A person with hepatitis A is considered contagious for two weeks before and one week after symptoms, the department stated.

"A two-dose Hepatitis A vaccine series is available for adults and children," a health department spokesperson wrote. "Those with questions should contact their health care providers."

Symptoms for adults include yellowing of the skin or eyes, right upper side abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, fatigue, dark (tea-colored) urine, light-colored stool, headache or fever.

The disease can cause liver inflammation and even death.

You can contact the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department Division of Epidemiology at 304-348-1088. Parents can contact the Kanawha County Board of Education at 304-348-7770.

UPDATE 5/1/18 @ 5:23 p.m.
There are now more than 50 cases of hepatitis A in Kanawha and Putnam counties according to health officials.

Officials with the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department confirmed the growing number Tuesday.

The number includes new cases in Kanawha and Putnam counties since January.

This is linked to an ongoing multistate hepatitis A outbreak.

The KCHD says the multistate outbreak, for the most part, is happening in people who use illicit drugs and who may be homeless or without a permanent home. The spread of the disease also could be linked to the lack of access to proper hygiene or sanitation.



UPDATE 4/19/18 @ 11:56 a.m.
There are now 31 confirmed cases of hepatitis A according to Kanawha County health officials.

Officials with the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department confirmed the growing number Thursday morning.

The number includes new cases in Kanawha and Putnam counties since January.

They also told WSAZ they are working with local shelters to get people vaccinated.

This is linked to an ongoing multistate hepatitis A outbreak.

The KCHD says the multistate outbreak, for the most part, is happening in people who use illicit drugs and who may be homeless or without a permanent home. The spread of the disease also could be linked to the lack of access to proper hygiene or sanitation.

Before the outbreak, hepatitis A cases were rare in our region, said Janet Briscoe, KCHD director of epidemiology.

UPDATE 4/18/18 @ 4:14 p.m.
Health officials say there have been 28 new cases of hepatitis A since January in Kanawha and Putnam counties.

When initially writing a press release, officials with the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department say the number was around 20. However, the number of reported cases is growing.

This is linked to an ongoing multistate hepatitis A outbreak.

The KCHD says the multistate outbreak, for the most part, is happening in people who use illicit drugs and who may be homeless or without a permanent home. The spread of the disease also could be linked to the lack of access to proper hygiene or sanitation.

Before the outbreak, hepatitis A cases were rare in our region, said Janet Briscoe, KCHD director of epidemiology.

"We are being more proactive," Briscoe said. "We know it’s here, we know there are cases, we know that if we’re going to stay on top of that we need to let the public know and want to be aware of and we need to start a vaccination campaign."



ORIGINAL STORY 4/18/18
Several hepatitis A cases have been confirmed in Kanawha and Putnam counties – linked to an ongoing multistate hepatitis A outbreak.

That information was released Wednesday by the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department.

The agency reports that since January more than 20 cases of hepatitis A have been confirmed in Kanawha and Putnam counties.

Before the outbreak, hepatitis A cases were rare in our region, said Janet Briscoe, KCHD director of epidemiology.

The KCHD says the multistate outbreak, for the most part, is happening in people who use illicit drugs and who may be homeless or without a permanent home. The spread of the disease also could be linked to the lack of access to proper hygiene or sanitation.

According to the KCHD, it recently received notification specimens submitted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as part of the local investigation match a specific genotype identified in outbreaks, including Kentucky.

California has experienced a similar outbreak, the agency says.

Hepatitis A virus is excreted from the body through stool. It can live on surfaces for months.

The virus can cause liver inflammation. A person with hepatitis A is considered contagious for two weeks before and one week after symptom onset. Most adults have symptoms that include yellowing of the skin or eyes, right upper side abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Those who have the illness may also experience loss of appetite, fatigue, dark (tea-colored) urine, light-colored stool, headache or fever. In some instances, deaths have been reported.

People may experience mild to severe symptoms. Once the acute phase of the illness passes, a person becomes immune. People with underlying health conditions, particularly those with chronic liver diseases such as alcoholic cirrhosis, hepatitis B and hepatitis C may require hospitalization.

People who experience hepatitis symptoms should notify their health care providers. Seek immediate medical attention if you suspect you have been in contact with someone who may have hepatitis A.

Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent hepatitis A infection. Anyone with risk factors is urged to get vaccinated.

For more information, visit www.kchdwv.org or call the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, Division of Epidemiology, at 304-348-1088.



 
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