Immunization Vaccination

The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) is reporting a hepatitis A outbreak in Mississippi, joining surrounding states and others across the country in fighting this national epidemic.

One case of the disease has been reported in DeSoto County since April 1 through July 31, according to figures from the MSDH, which has reported a total of 23 cases across the state.

Pearl River County has seen the most cases with five, followed by Benton County with four and Wilkinson County with three through the end of July.

Sixty-one percent of the hepatitis A patients have been hospitalized.

“An outbreak occurs when we see an increased number of cases greater than what is normally expected over time,” said MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers. “We investigate all reported cases to identify their contacts and provide vaccination.”

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that can be spread when a person ingests the virus through food or drink that is contaminated with the feces of an infected person or through close, personal contact (including sexual contact) with an infected person; including sexual contact and sharing or handling objects with someone who is infected.

Symptoms of hepatitis A include nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting; jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes); and stomach pain, low appetite and fever.

“In Mississippi, our most at-risk populations are those who use those who use recreational drugs, are currently in jail or were recently in jail, men who have sex with men, and those with unstable housing or who are homeless,” said Dr. Byers. “Other states are seeing similar trends.”

Hepatitis A can be prevented through a vaccine. Other prevention measures include practicing strong hygiene habits such as thoroughly washing your hands after using the bathroom.

“We are strongly recommending that all persons who are at higher risk get hepatitis A vaccine” said Byers. “Hepatitis A vaccine can be obtained through your provider, pharmacist and at all County Health Departments for uninsured or underinsured persons,” said Dr. Byers.

For more information about hepatitis A and this outbreak, CLICK HERE