Houston County is one case away from a Hepatitis A outbreak

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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) -- With two cases of the virus already confirmed Houston County is only one case away from a Hepatitis A outbreak.

The number of Hepatitis A virus outbreak cases continues to increase in Alabama, according to data from the Alabama Department of Public Health. (Source: AL Dept. Public Health)

“We have about 229 cases throughout the state we do have roughly about 59% of those that have been hospitalized,” says Alabama Department of Public Health health services administrator Corey Kirkland.

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver infection caused by a virus.

Symptoms include joint pain, dark urine, and yellowing of the skin or eyes.

“Hepatitis is around 6 months it could be shorter it might be longer. It doesn't usually cause a chronic condition, but it can cause liver failure and it is possible for people to pass away from,” says Kirkland.

The virus is spread person to person making it extremely contagious.

Public health officials say there is no cure for the virus, so preventing it is crucial.

There are only two ways to do that.

Practicing good hygiene like hand washing often is the first.

The second is getting vaccinated.

“Even one gives you immunity to the virus up to 95% in some cases up to eleven years. It is a two-shot vaccine, so it's better to get both but at least one will give you a quite a bit of protection,” says Kirkland.

Certain populations in our community have to be the most careful.

“The group that we most look out for with this outbreak are those that have been homeless, those that use drugs whether its IV drugs or not, also anyone that's been incarcerated and men having sex with men,” says Kirkland.

The virus usually surfaces 2 to 7 weeks after being exposed to it.

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