TUCSON, Ariz. - The Pima County Health Department is investigating an increase in Hepatitis A cases across the county.
There's an increase in #HepatitisA cases across Pima County and the Pima County Dept. of Health says the homeless are at a high risk of getting the virus.— Veronica Acosta (@VeronicacostaTV) December 20, 2018
Paula Mandel, with the health dept., says lack of resources play a big role in this @kgun9 pic.twitter.com/a10sxiiMuM
So far this year there have been 22 reported cases of Hepatitis A. In 2017, there were five cases and in 2016 there were 12 cases, according to health department officials.
Health department officials added there are two communities they are keeping an extra close eye on because of the high risk they have to getting the virus.
The homeless community and those who use illegal drugs are highest at risk for getting Hepatitis A because of the lack of their lack of resources.
"What we know with these populations is they are transient, a lot of times they do not have access to water and bathroom facilities and so some of the things that could prevent these spread is good hand washing," said Paula Mandel, with the Pima County Health Department.
Mandel added the virus can spread quickly as it is a fecal, oral virus.
"If they don't wash their hands after they go to the bathroom and they leave it on an object then someone else may touch the object and then they become exposed or they may prepare food or drinks for an individual and then a person is exposed," Mandel said.
In order to try and avoid the continuous spread of the virus, the county health department decided to partner up with Z Mansion and El Rio Health to provide education and vaccines to those who are homeless.