Ashtabula County has not yet been affected by the spike in Hepatitis A cases reported this week by the Ohio Department of Health, local officials said.
The ODH, in a
statement issued Thursday, reported 47 cases of Hepatitis A in the state, compared to five cases during the same timeframe in 2017.
No cases have been reported within the districts covered by the city of Conneaut or Ashtabula County health departments, officials there said. A call to the Ashtabula City Health Department was not immediately returned.
The jump in cases is not considered an outbreak, although outbreaks are occurring in neighboring states of Indiana, West Virginia, Michigan and Kentucky, according to the ODH. Some of Ohio’s cases are linked to those outbreaks, the ODH said in its statement.
Ray Saporito, Ashtabula County health commissioner, said persons who contracted Hepatitis A in other states could conceivably pass it along in Ohio.
“People do travel,” he said. “It depends on the route of exposure.”
The ODH is urging people with known risk factors to get vaccinated. The vaccine is available at Ashtabula County and Conneaut offices. Two doses are required, said Sally Kennedy, Conneaut health commissioner.
Hepatitis A is a liver disease that usually spreads when a person ingests fecal matter — even in minute amounts — from contact with objects, food or drinks contaminated by the stool of an infested person, according to the ODH. It can also be spread through sexual contact.
Hepatitis A risks include:
• Persons with direct contact with individuals infected with the virus
• Travelers to countries where the virus is prevalent
• Men who have sex with men
• People who use street drugs whether they are injected or not
• People with blood-clotting factor disorders
• People with chronic liver disease
• Household members and other close contacts of adopted children newly-arrived from countries where Hepatitis A is common.
Symptoms include fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, clay-colored stools and jaundice. Sufferers can experience mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting for months, according to the ODH.