While Hepatitis A rates had been decreasing in the United States since the late 1990’s through 2015,1 localized outbreaks have made a resurgence. Since 2016 several states including Arizona, California, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, and Utah have experienced outbreaks, resulting in over 15,000 confirmed cases and 140 deaths across the US.1
According to the CDC, Hepatitis A is primarily spread through ingestion of fecal matter that is found on contaminated hands, food, drinks, or surfaces.2 It can also be spread through intimate contact. Recent outbreaks have largely occurred in high-risk populations of people experiencing homelessness and people who use drugs. Typical Hepatitis A symptoms include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dark urine, and jaundice, and usually last less than two months. Symptoms are treated through proper hydration, nutrition and rest.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) began recommending vaccination for Hepatitis A in 1996, first focusing on high-risk groups. In 2006, ACIP recommended the routine vaccination for children.3 Because of the recency of the recommendation for routine vaccination, many adults remain unvaccinated. If an unvaccinated person is exposed to Hepatitis A, a shot of vaccine within 2 weeks of exposure can help reduce the severity of illness.
Vaccination is the best way to prevent contracting Hepatitis A. For adults, vaccination is recommended for individuals who are at a higher risk of contracting Hepatitis A or travel to countries with a high incidence of disease.2 Other measures to prevent the spread and contraction of Hepatitis A include good hand hygiene practices: washing hands after using the restroom, or before eating or food preparation.
To help prevent the spread of disease, disinfect high touch point surfaces in public spaces. Because Hepatitis A is quite resistant4 it should be ensured that the disinfectant used is EPA-approved and demonstrates Hepatitis A efficacy, such as PURELL® Surface Disinfecting Spray or PURELL® Foodservice Surface Sanitizer.