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Hepatitis A Outbreak: Public Health Emergency Declared in Philadelphia

“We don't want anyone to contract Hepatitis A and we have the ability to stop this outbreak.”


Public health officials in Philadelphia have declared a public health emergency because of an ongoing outbreak of Hepatitis A, which started in January.

They have advised medical providers and other agencies to help vaccinate people who are at risk of catching the infection in order to combat the outbreak.

“The city usually sees between two to six cases of Hepatitis A per year,” according to the Philadelphia Health Department. Since January, there have been more than 150 cases of hepatitis A.

The Health Department, since July 2018, has coordinated the vaccination of more than 1,770 people who were considered at-risk. The health department has also reported that nearly 12,440 people took Hepatitis A vaccine in the city. However, the officials said it has not been able to stop the outbreak.

Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said, “We don’t want anyone to contract Hepatitis A, and we have the ability to stop this outbreak. Now that we have a safe and effective vaccine, the most important action we can take is for everyone at high risk to be vaccinated.”

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Hepatitis A is one of the contagious diseases affecting the liver. The modes of transmission include a personal contact or sharing things with an infected person and consumption of food or water contaminated with the feces of an infected person.

Those who use drugs; who are homeless; who are currently or recently incarcerated; and men who have sex with men are at a higher risk of catching the infection.

People who have been diagnosed with hepatitis A should take precautionary measures, such as washing hands thoroughly, avoiding food preparation in high-risk zones, using condoms during sex, and staying away from drugs.

Philadelphia health officials said they will be expanding their outreach to vaccinate homeless people and others who are at risk. Rock Ministries is teaming up with the health department to help people who are at greatest risk. They are going to start giving out free hepatitis A vaccinations on August 13.