Pennsylvania NEWS

PA Department of Health Declares Hepatitis A Outbreak

5/22/2019

Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine recently announced that Pennsylvania has declared an outbreak of hepatitis A, with 171 cases in 36 counties since January 2018.

 
“The counties hardest hit by this outbreak are Philadelphia and Allegheny, but we have seen an increase of cases throughout much of the state,” Dr. Levine said. “We are taking this action now to be proactive in our response to treating Pennsylvanians suffering from this illness and prevent it from spreading. The best way to prevent hepatitis A is through vaccination.”

Dr. Levine noted that neighboring states of Ohio and West Virginia have seen more than 2,000 cases since January 2018. By declaring an outbreak, Pennsylvania is eligible for federal funds to purchase additional vaccine if it is needed.

“It’s hard to know for sure why we are experiencing an outbreak of hepatitis A,” Dr. Levine said. “We do know that the commonwealth has seen an increase of diseases like hepatitis C and HIV because of the opioid epidemic.”

The department has launched enhanced hepatitis A information, including an interactive map with vaccine clinics on its website.

Hepatitis A is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus. It is spread person to person after putting something in the mouth that has been contaminated with the feces of a person infected with hepatitis A. It is a vaccine preventable illness.

Learn more about the outbreak and risk factors for contracting hepatitis A.