Hepatitis A in Utah and what to do about it

Hepatitis A is a virus that can cause serious liver disease so it made headlines in Utah last week when news broke that some infected employees had worked for several days at food establishments in Salt Lake and Utah counties.

State figures released early this month put the number of Utahns affected at over 130.

Health hotlines reported hundreds of calls asking about vaccine options.

“The best way to prevent Hepatitis A is through vaccination,” said Lisa Perkins, Immunization Program Manager at Bear River Health. “It is one of the few food borne illnesses that can be prevented through vaccination.

“The vaccination is widely available through local pharmacies, doctor’s offices and even here at the health department. We offer it as part of our walk-in clinics.”

Perkins said the vaccine is a two-shot series separated by six months and once completed, it provides lifetime immunity.

She said prevention measures include regular hand washing which is the most simple and effective way to prevent the spread of germs to others.

“Typical symptoms we see are usually fatigue, a decreased or low appetite, perhaps nausea and sometimes even jaundice.”

Perkins said symptoms are not always immediate.

The latest information on Hepatitis A is found at the health department’s web site, brhd.org or by telephone at 435-792-6500.

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