IDPH Offers Vaccination After Hepatitis A Outbreaks in Neighboring States
In an effort to prevent hepatitis A outbreaks in Illinois, the Illinois Department of Public Health is working with almost two dozen local health departments around the state to make hepatitis A vaccine more readily available.
Kane County Health Department Director of Disease Prevention Uche Onwuta said Kane County wasn’t immediately eligible for the vaccine but likely would be soon.
“KCHD was not one of those that received the initial supply of vaccines,” she said. “That was directed to local health departments with STD clinics. IDPH has reached out to us this second go-around, and we are following up with them to secure our own supply.”
In Kane County, there has been only one case of Hep A reported to the Health Department through July, and that was back in January. There were four cases reported in 2017.
More recently, states across the country, including states bordering Illinois, have been seeing Hepatitis A outbreaks. The IDPH is not presently reporting any Hepatitis A outbreaks, but officials says the danger is significant.
“Hepatitis A is an infection that can damage the liver, and is passed easily from one person to another through food, water, drug use, and sex,” said IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D. “To help prevent people in Illinois from getting hepatitis A, the Illinois Department of Public Health has requested large numbers of hepatitis A vaccines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That vaccine is being delivered to numerous local health departments across Illinois and be available for free or a reduced cost for people at the greatest risk of becoming infected.”
According to the CDC, from January 2017 to April 2018, there have been more than 2,500 reports of Hepatitis A infections from multiple states.
Of the more than 1,900 reports for which risk factors are known, more than 1,300 people infected reported drug use (injection and non-injection), homelessness or both.
Men who have sex with men, people who use drugs, and people who do not have a home should check with their health department about a free or reduced cost hepatitis A vaccine.
Local health departments participating in the targeted hepatitis A vaccination effort are in the process of receiving vaccine.
Hepatitis is defined as an inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis is commonly caused by a virus. The most common types are Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C. There are two other types, Hepatitis D and Hepatitis E, which are more common in other countries.
Viral hepatitis is the leading cause of liver cancer and the most common reason for liver transplantation. An estimated 4.4 million Americans are living with chronic hepatitis but most do not know that they are infected.
There are vaccines available for Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B.
SOURCE: Illinois Department of Public Health news release