Most Hepati­tis A vic­tims in state out­break are in NW Ge­or­gia

The Standard Journal - - REGION - By Andy Miller Ge­or­gia Health News Ge­or­gia Health News, a non­profit 501©3 or­ga­ni­za­tion, tracks state med­i­cal is­sues on its web­site

The Hepati­tis A toll in Ge­or­gia now ex­ceeds 300 cases, in­clud­ing one death, ac­cord­ing to state pub­lic health of­fi­cials.

Of the 312 Ge­or­gia res­i­dents di­ag­nosed with Hepati­tis A since June 2018, two-thirds were hos­pi­tal­ized. Al­most half the cases are linked to il­licit drug use, the state’s Depart­ment of Pub­lic Health said Tues­day.

The highly con­ta­gious liver in­fec­tion has hit the North­west Ge­or­gia area pretty hard. While the cases are re­ported as be­ing re­ported in the Rome district, which cov­ers the 10 county area in North­west Ge­or­gia, the cases have been pri­mar­ily spread through the north­ern­most area of the district.

Ge­or­gia also has seen a high num­ber of E. coli in­fec­tions. These cases have now reached 49, up from a to­tal of 27 a month ago. The E. coli prob­lem has been linked to con­tam­i­nated ground beef, in­clud­ing from one source in Ge­or­gia.

State of­fi­cials say E. coli is level­ing off here, though they ex­pect the num­ber of con­firmed cases to con­tinue to rise as a re­sult of lag time in re­port­ing and test­ing.

North­west Ge­or­gia Health De­part­ments in Bar­tow, Ca­toosa, Chat­tooga, Dade, Floyd, Gor­don and Walker coun­ties will pro­vide free Hepati­tis A vac­cine to in­di­vid­u­als at risk of the highly con­ta­gious, highly pre­ventable liver dis­ease ev­ery Fri­day in May. Clin­ics will be held at each health depart­ment on May 17, 24 and 31, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“We urge in­di­vid­u­als with one or more of these risk fac­tors to get vac­ci­nated against this vac­cine-pre­ventable dis­ease,” said Dr. Unini Odama, health di­rec­tor for the Ge­or­gia Depart­ment of Pub­lic Health North­west Health District. “The best way to pre­vent Hepati­tis A is to prac­tice good hy­giene, proper hand­wash­ing, care­ful and san­i­tary prepa­ra­tion of food, and by get­ting vac­ci­nated against the hepati­tis A virus.”

Hepati­tis A can range from a mild ill­ness last­ing a few weeks to a se­vere ill­ness last­ing sev­eral months.

Symp­toms of Hepati­tis A can in­clude nau­sea, vom­it­ing, abdominal pain, loss of ap­petite, fever, di­ar­rhea and headache. It is usu­ally trans­mit­ted from per­son to per­son through the fe­cal-oral route or con­sump­tion of con­tam­i­nated food or water.

Ge­or­gia health of­fi­cials also said Tues­day that the num­ber of measles cases here re­mains at six. Over­all, 839 cases of measles have been con­firmed in 23 states.

The highly con­ta­gious liver in­fec­tion has hit the North­west Ge­or­gia area pretty hard. While the cases are re­ported as be­ing in the Rome district, they’re spread through­out the 10-county North­west Ge­or­gia district.

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