Hepatitis A Outbreak Declared in Minnesota
St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - The Minnesota Department of Health is declared the state is experiencing a hepatitis A outbreak.
At last report, 23 cases had been identified in 9 counties, and 13 of those cases required hospitalization. Officials say the outbreak mainly involves people who use street drugs, are experiencing homelessness, unstable housing, or were recently incarcerated. The initial cases were clustered in east-central Minnesota but the health department says the more recent cases have occurred in other parts of the state and the infection source has not been identified for some of the cases. Federal health officials are tracking similar outbreaks nationwide and report there have been over 23,600 cases in 29 states.
Hepatitis A can lead to potentially life-threatening liver damage and can affect anyone who is not vaccinated against the infection. Health officials note that people who are homeless or use drugs are at a higher risk and the Minnesota Department of Health is working on getting those higher-risk populations vaccinated.
The hepatitis A vaccination is currently recommended for all children starting at one year of age, travelers to certain countries and other people at high risk of the disease.