Hepatitis A exposure possible at food pantry amid outbreak

The Hepatitis A Outbreak in Utah Now Involves a 7-Eleven

MI has been hardest-hit in terms of deaths, with 22.

Outbreaks of hepatitis A began cropping up sporadically throughout the USA in March of 2017, spurring the California government to declare a public health emergency. As of January 4, there have been 658 cases in Southeast Michigan.

"At this point, we have plenty of Hepatitis A vaccine here at the health department", said Ralph Clegg, UCHD Executive Director.

The outbreak can be traced to transient camps and illicit drug users in San Diego, officials say.

The Health Dept. has added Tabitha's Way Local Food Pantry, at 140 N Main St.to its list of establishments being investigated for possible Hepatitis A exposures.

Utah officials believe the disease spread as people moved between homeless centers in the two states, Rupp said. Cases of hepatitis A in Colorado doubled in 2017, and health officials there say they are increasing specifically among "gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with unvaccinated men".

According to a new report from ABC News, Nicholas Rupp, a spokesman for the Salt Lake County Health Department, said that tests have linked the Utah hepatitis A outbreak to another outbreak in San Diego, California.

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The Utah County Health Department has identified a third Spanish Fork location where patrons were potentially exposed to Hepatitis A recently. "We are seeing similar hospitalization rates as San Diego, about 60%, but we have fortunately not seen any deaths". "And everyone should practice handwashing after being in public places to protect themselves from exposure".

Residents can also contact the Utah County Health Department via phone at 801-851-HEPA (4372) for vaccine information. Packaged foods are not affected, according to the Health Department.

Both of the restaurants are cooperating with the health department's investigation.

Having spread to Utah, the hepatitis A outbreak has infected more people with 152 cases confirmed so far, but no deaths have been reported at this point. The disease inflames the liver, and can occasionally be deadly.

Hepatitis A is an extremely contagious liver disease spread easily through contaminated food and water or sexual contact.

According to the news release, "Symptoms of Hepatitis A may include nausea/vomiting, abdominal pain, yellowing of the eyes or skin, dark urine, diarrhea, clay-colored stools, and fatigue". Because it may take between two and seven weeks for people to start showing symptoms, "we may not know if anyone was infected due to the possible exposure at 7-Eleven for weeks still", Rupp says. The San Diego epidemic has killed 20 people and hundreds more got sick, marking the worst US epidemic of this kind in the last two decades. However, the current vaccine is effective against all strains of the virus.

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