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Hepatitis A Outbreak In Nashville Confirmed By Health Officials

May 27, 2018 08:33 PM EDT

There's a hepatitis A outbreak in Nashville where health officials confirm that 14 people are already diagnosed with acute hepatitis A.

Metro and state officials are already moving to keep the outbreak contained with vaccinations.

Nashville's Hepatitis A Outbreak

According to a report from NewsChannel5, all 14 cases occurred in the span of five months, since Dec. 1, 2017.

Nashville usually has an average of two cases of hepatitis A per year.

In response to the outbreak, MPHD is reportedly joining forces with the Tennessee Department of Health.

Vaccination Operations

As part of the efforts, free hepatitis A vaccinations will be offered to at-risk groups at the three Health Centers. The free service will start on Tuesday, May 8.

Three at-risk groups specified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention include: illicit drug users (not limited to injected drug use), men who engage in sexual contact with other men, and homeless individuals. The first two will be top priority for the Nashville vaccinations.

Brian Haile, CEO of community health clinic Neighborhood Health, tells WSMV that the outbreak can be contained if vaccination is done immediately, especially in at-risk communities.

However, he's concerned about the doses of the vaccine that are available for a large number of at-risk citizens.

"There are over 18,000 men who have sex with men in Nashville. There are over 5,000 homeless individuals in Nashville, and there are an unknown number of drug users," Haile says in a separate interview with NewsChannel5. "We want to work closely with the Metro Public Health Department, to ensure that Nashville immediately gets an adequate supply of vaccine."

About Hepatitis A

CDC describes hepatitis A as highly contagious liver infection that's usually transmitted person-to-person through the fecal-oral route or by the exposure to contaminated food or water. Symptoms include low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, and jaundice, which is similar to hepatitis B and C.

Hepatitis A usually ranges from a mild sickness that lasts a few weeks to a more severe illness that stretches for several months. It doesn't become chronic. While fatal cases are rare, the disease can cause liver failure and death.

In 2016, there were an estimated 4,000 cases of hepatitis A in the United States.

Aside from the previously mentioned at-risk , CDC says other individuals prone to the disease include travelers who have recently been to countries where hepatitis A is more common, those living with an adoptee from these countries, patients with clotting factor disorders (e.g. hemophilia), and people who work with nonhuman primates.

For anyone, the best way of preventing the infection is through vaccination.

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