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Tennessee Hepatitis A Outbreak Update

The Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) continues to provide updates on the hepatitis A outbreak in the state. Over 2940 cases have been reported to TDH from December 1, 2017 to Feb 21,2020 and over 31000 nationally since 2016. Most have at least one risk factor seen in other large, prolonged multi-state outbreaks: use of recreational drugs, sexual contact between men, or homelessness. Additional cases are expected in the coming months.

The TDH is working with local health departments to protect persons at higher risk, including educational outreach and offering vaccine in health department clinics, in homeless shelters and encampments, correctional facilities and other locations. Resources for the public are available at: Transmission is presumed to occur person-to-person and through recreational (injection and non-injection) drug use. Hepatitis A vaccine is extremely effective. The first dose of the two dose series will protect most people for several years. The two dose series is all that is needed for a lifetime; it does not require booster doses.

Hepatitis A is a contagious, vaccine-preventable liver infection that is spread in the feces of infected people. Individuals with hepatitis A infection can be contagious for two weeks before and one week after they show symptoms.

Most people become sick about a month after being infected. The illness can range from mild to serious illness, and in some situations, result in death. Persons with the acute onset of symptoms of hepatitis present with yellowing of the eyes and/or skin, fever, nausea/vomiting, dark urine, pale stool, abdominal pain, fatigue and loss of appetite.

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