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Rising Hepatitis A Cases Prompt Investigation in the US

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United States: Hepatitis A is still a concern for the residents of the United States. Currently, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has outlined that the cases linked to the infection has been increasing, which has been prompting an investigation. 

The Department has confirmed that the cases linked to the infection has been reported among an employee at a grocery store in Beverly Hills. As per the official update, the infected person was an employee at the Whole Foods on Crescent Drive. 

Amid the time of infection, the health authorities have outlined that consumers must avoid the consumption of the products from the seafood counter if purchased between April 20 and May 13. The health experts have mentioned that they are not immune against the infection and must get vaccinated against hepatitis A. 

In addition to this, the health officials have outlined that no case is related to the infection rather than the worker. 

“Receiving vaccination as soon as possible after exposure could help reduce the risk of developing hepatitis A infection. Residents should contact their local pharmacy or medical provider for the vaccine. Public Health is working with the company to ensure that employees who are not immune are referred for vaccination,” the statement by the Department reads, according to abc7.com. 

On Monday, health authorities disclosed an investigation into a cluster of five hepatitis A infections detected among the homeless since mid-March. Specific locations of the affected individuals were not disclosed, but officials emphasized that the “current risk to the public remains minimal,” as per the reports. 

The hepatitis A virus is present in the blood and feces of those infected. Homeless individuals are particularly susceptible due to their often limited access to handwashing and sanitary facilities, according to the Department of Public Health.

“Public Health is providing complimentary hepatitis A vaccinations to those experiencing homelessness in encampments and interim housing where exposure risk is evident,” stated the Department. “The hepatitis A vaccine generally involves a two-dose series that is both safe and highly efficacious in preventing the infection. Moreover, individuals who have not been previously vaccinated can receive the hepatitis A vaccine shortly after exposure to avert developing the infection.”

Health officials are collaborating with healthcare providers to ensure vigilance for potential new cases and with organizations offering services to the homeless population.

Despite the low risk to the general public, health officials advised residents to verify their vaccination status against hepatitis A and consult a medical provider if necessary. Residents were also encouraged to wash their hands with soap and water before eating when preparing food, and after using the restroom, reports claimed. 

“Symptoms of hepatitis include fever, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, dark urine, or yellow eyes/skin,” health officials mentioned, adding, “Although rare, hepatitis A can cause death in some people. Hepatitis A is usually transmitted through eating contaminated food or through close contact with a person while infectious, and a person with the virus can transmit illness up to two weeks prior to the onset of symptoms.”

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