TUCSON, Ariz. — Cochise County Health officials are on high alert due to a recent county-wide Hepatitis A outbreak. So far at least 5 cases have been confirmed since March. Other outbreaks have been reported in multiple states since 2017, including an ongoing outbreak in Pima County. According to officials the most highly affected group is the homeless.
Public Health is currently working with community engagement teams over the next few months throughout the county to help stop the outbreak.
Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable infectious disease that typically spreads from person-to-person by contaminated needles and other drug paraphernalia, sexual contact, or unsanitary living conditions. It can also be spread through contact with food or objects infected individuals have had contact with.
Hepatitis A symptoms include fever, abdominal pain, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite, usually followed by jaundice within a few days. While hepatitis A infections are typically self-limiting, it can lead to serious outcomes, including death when it affects individuals with other underlying conditions.
CDC guidelines indicate that the highest risk groups for hepatitis A are the homeless, IV and non-IV drug users, those with direct contact with infected carriers and those who are incarcerated who have been in the past 6 months.
Experts say the best way to prevent hepatitis A is through vaccination with the hepatitis A vaccine. Hand-washing is another way to prevent infection. The vaccine is effective and given in two doses with the second six months later. On Friday, May 17th, Cochise Health and Social Services is offering no-cost, adult-only hepatitis A vaccinations at its Bisbee clinic located at 1415 Melody Lane, Building A from 10 am to 2 pm. No appointment is necessary for this walk-in clinic. It's important to note that children who are up-to-date with their scheduled vaccinations have already received the hep A vaccine. Some vaccine doses are also available at local pharmacies.
For more information, call Cochise Health and Social Services at 1-833-670-5786.