Louisiana’s Hepatitis A outbreak is growing, with 305 cases reported dating back to the outbreak that was declared in December of last year.
Louisiana Department of Health Assistant State Health Officer Dr. Joseph Kanter says while we haven’t seen outbreaks in the thousands like some of our neighbors, it’s still a significantly more cases than normal.
“Typically, in Louisiana, every year we see between five and fifteen cases of Hepatitis A, so to have 300 cases, in less than 12 months, is very concerning for us.”
Kanter says nationally, since the outbreak was declared in 2016 there’s been about 20,000 cases.
LDH is pushing back, hoping to contain the outbreak through vaccinations before the state sees an even more dramatic rise in cases by focusing on the two highest risk groups.
“The overwhelming majority of cases are centered on two main risk groups, and those are individuals experiencing homelessness, and individuals using drugs.”
Kanter recommends talking to your doctor about possibly getting vaccinated if you think you might be at risk.
Kanter says most cases of Hep A do not leave the patient with long term damage, but getting infected can be a really unpleasant experience.
“A disease of the liver and it starts with symptoms that look very much like a stomach bug, but it can progress to jaundice, which is a yellowing of the skin, a yellowing of the eyes, and people can get quite sick.”
The map below from the Centers For Disease Control shows what states have been hit the hardest by the outbreak.