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Health Department advises about increased awareness of hepatitis A

WAUKEGAN – The Lake County Health Department is informing the public that there has been a recent increase in reported cases of hepatitis A virus throughout Illinois and in Lake County.

Since January 2018, the Illinois Department of Public Health has confirmed 110 cases of the hepatitis A virus and has identified 35 cases to be part of a statewide outbreak.

“We encourage any resident who is exhibiting symptoms of HAV to seek medical attention immediately,” Dr. Sana Ahmed, medical epidemiologist at the Lake County Health Department, said in a news release.

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious and vaccine-preventable infection. The symptoms include fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal and joint pain, dark urine, clay-colored stools, and jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes). Once infected, it may take two to seven weeks before a person shows symptoms of infection. Anyone experiencing symptoms of hepatitis A should call their health care provider to get tested. Anyone who is a close contact of a person who has been recently infected should also get vaccinated.

Hepatitis A may spread when a person unknowingly consumes contaminated food or drink prepared or served by an infected person or has direct contact with an infected person. Groups with high risk for infection include men who have sex with men, people who are homeless, people who are incarcerated, both injection and noninjection drug users, people with direct contact with someone who has hepatitis A, and travelers to countries where the virus is common.

The IDPH recommends the following steps to prevent hepatitis A virus:

• Get vaccinated

• Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water

• Do not share needles or have sex with someone who has hepatitis A

• Do not share food, drinks or cigarettes

• Do not share eating utensils or personal items

Learn more about hepatitis A on the IDPH and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites.

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