Hepatitis A: What You Need to Know
San Diego has recently seen an outbreak of hepatitis A. While this is a health emergency, most people in San Diego are at low risk for contracting the disease. Read on to learn more about who is at risk and what you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones.
What is hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection that is spread when a person ingests food or water that has been contaminated by feces of an infected person.
Who is at risk for contracting hepatitis A?
Most people have a low risk of contracting hepatitis A if they are generally healthy, don't typically come into contact with high-risk people and comply with hand-washing and other routine hygiene practices.
Some people do have an elevated risk of contracting hepatitis A, including:
- Homeless individuals
- Illicit drug users
- Men who have sex with men (MSM)
- Food handlers in San Diego County
- People in close contact with homeless individuals and/or illicit drug users
- Travelers to countries where hepatitis A is common
- Patients treated with clotting-factor concentrates
- People who work with hepatitis A-infected animals or in a hepatitis A research laboratory
- People in close personal contact with an international adoptee from a country where hepatitis A is common
Also, people with chronic liver disease have an increased risk of complications if they do contract hepatitis A.
What is the best way to prevent the disease?
The best thing you can do to prevent hepatitis A is to get the hepatitis A vaccination.
Aside from receiving the vaccine, the best way to protect yourself is to wash your hands with soap and warm water after using the bathroom, and before preparing, serving or eating food. If you have physical contact with others in high-risk categories, wear disposable gloves and wash your hands after each encounter.
Should I get the hepatitis A vaccine?
If you are unsure or have questions about the disease or receiving the vaccine, please contact your primary care doctor.
Source: San Diego County Health & Human Services Agency
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