The Southern Nevada Health District has confirmed a significant increase in the number of acute hepatitis A cases in Clark County. Between January 1, 2019, and May 31, 2019, there have been 37 reported acute hepatitis A cases, compared to 17 reported cases in 2018, no reported case in 2017, and six reported cases in 2016 during the same period. People who are at increased risk for infection of hepatitis A include people who use drugs and those experiencing homelessness. Of the 37 reported cases, 86 percent were people who used drugs, and 65 percent were among people experiencing homelessness.
Other risk factors for infection of hepatitis A include:
- Men who have sex with men.
- People with chronic liver disease.
- People who have an occupational risk for infection.
- People traveling to or working in countries where hepatitis A is common.
- People with direct contact with people who have hepatitis A.
- People with clotting-factor disorders.
Hepatitis A is commonly spread from person-to-person through the fecal-oral route. Symptoms include jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, and light-colored stools.
Vaccination is the best prevention against hepatitis A. Practicing good hygiene can also help prevent the transmission of hepatitis A. Wash hands thoroughly after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and before preparing or eating food. More information on hepatitis A is available on the Health District website. For up to date information on the nationwide Hepatitis A outbreak visit the CDC website.
“This current outbreak of hepatitis A in our community is an unfortunate but important reminder of why vaccines are vital to both our individual and community health,” said Dr. Joe Iser, Chief Health Officer of the Southern Nevada Health District.
Since March of 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has assisted multiple states and local health authorities in their responses to hepatitis A outbreaks. As of June 7, 2019, 22 states have reported 19,723 cases of the virus, resulting in 11,331 hospitalizations, and 189 deaths. Beginning in November 2017, in response to nationwide outbreaks, the Health District worked with a range of community partners to establish 27 mobile strike teams to provide immunization clinics for the homeless and at-risk populations. These teams administered the hepatitis A vaccine, as well as other immunizations, during outreach events. In Nevada, hepatitis A vaccines have been required for school entry since July 1, 2002. However, only about one-third of the population receiving services had a documented history of receiving the hepatitis A vaccine.
The Health District is responding to this current outbreak in Clark County using information from recent cases to identify and notify hospitals that have treated an increased number of hepatitis cases; identifying further locations to target vaccinations; continuing its outreach and immunization efforts with its partners; and working with its health care partners to share information and recommendations about the outbreak.