County Public Health Hepatitis A Prevention
Outbreaks of Hepatitis A disease are currently ongoing in two California counties (San Diego County and Santa Cruz County) in persons who are homeless and/or using illicit drugs. Transmission is presumed to occur person-to-person, not through contaminated food or water. There has been no known local transmission of cases with the same strain of hepatitis A virus (HAV) within Sacramento County this year. In an effort to prevent an outbreak in Sacramento County, Public Health is working with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and other county agencies to develop a preventive action plan to protect the public.

The first phase for prevention will be a series of vaccination clinics for at risk populations, including homeless and illicit drug users. Public Health is advising anyone who works with persons at high risk of infections (i.e. staff in health care settings, prisons, homeless shelters, etc.), in conditions with possible contact with fecal matter (i.e. janitorial staff, waste management, parks, etc.) or in the food service industry to:

  1. Get the Hepatitis A vaccine. People should inquire with their primary care provider to receive the vaccine.
    *Contact the Sacramento County Immunization Assistance Program at (916) 875-SHOT (7468) if you are unable to get the vaccine through your health care provider.
  2. Wear proper personal protective equipment and other protective gear as indicated in policies and procedures and as recommended.
  3. Perform proper hand hygiene, including after using the restroom and before preparing food.

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with the hepatitis A virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. Hepatitis A is usually spread when a person ingests the virus from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by feces or stool from an infected person.

Some people with hepatitis A do not have any symptoms. If symptoms do develop, they may include: fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, joint pain, and jaundice (a yellowing of the skin or eyes). Although anyone can get hepatitis A, certain groups of people are at higher risk, such as those who are immune compromised, including those with Hepatitis B & C or HIV and older adults. Almost all people who get hepatitis A recover completely and do not have any lasting liver damage, although they may feel sick for months. hepatitis A can sometimes cause liver failure and death, although this is rare and occurs more commonly in persons 50 years of age or older and persons with other liver diseases, such as hepatitis B or C.

Please review the Sacramento County Public Health Frequently Asked Questions and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) fact sheet: ABCs of Hepatitis. For information about Hepatitis A disease, visit the CDC’s website https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hav/index.htm or the CDPH’s website https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/Immunization/Hepatitis-A.aspx.

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