COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) -- The hepatitis A outbreak associated with hundreds of cases in neighboring states has spread to Ohio, according to a news release from the Ohio Department of Health.
Ohio's numbers are not as high as those in surrounding states -- Michigan reported 843 cases,; Kentucky reported 761; West Virginia reported 248; Indiana reported 138 -- but its 79 cases are "almost double the number of cases reported during all of last year," according to the release. A numbers of the cases in Ohio have been linked to the outbreaks in The declaration comes a week after one case in Ross County involving a restaurant employee.
Community health departments across the state will receive thousands of doses of the vaccine to help curb the disease's spread, which covers most adults for about 20 years.
Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver disease spread by the bodily products of infects. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most common way people contract the infection is by unknowingly eating or drinking substances "contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool from an infected person." Other forms of close, personal contact with an infectee -- such as sex -- can also spread the virus.
Most cases of hepatitis A do not become symptomatic until the virus has been in the victim's system for several weeks. When symptoms appear, they include fever, fatigue, joint pain and jaundice, which causes the skin and eyes to appear yellow. In rare cases, people with weak immune systems can experience far more serious complications.
Fortunately, the virus is easy to prevent by either washing your hands frequently or with the vaccine, which is covered by most health insurance plans.