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Cases Of Contagious Hepatitis A Rise In PA And Neighboring States

Rick Callahan
In this photo, a nurse holds a syringe provided to intravenous drug users as part of a needle exchange program. Hepatitis A, which can be spread through drug use, is on the rise in Pennsylvania and surrounding states.

Cases of Hepatitis A are in the rise in Pennsylvania.

The commonwealth’s Department of Health said Monday that over the last several years, there have been between 40 and 60 Hepatitis A cases annually.

This year, 81 have been reported.

And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there is heightened risk for people who are homeless, men who have sex with other men, people who use drugs, or recently-incarcerated people.

Other states are experiencing outbreaks too—including neighboring Ohio and West Virginia.

Hepatitis A is essentially liver inflammation. It’s contagious, and most commonly transmitted when a person ingests something contaminated by infected feces—often, an undetectable amount.

Close contact can also spread it.

Its onset can cause a range of symptoms, including fever, fatigue, vomiting, loss of appetite, joint pain, and jaundice—and it can vary widely in severity.

There is a vaccine for Hepatitis A, and Health Secretary Rachel Levine recommended anyone concerned should check with a doctor.

Unlike Hepatitis B and C, it’s not a chronic disease.