PEARL RIVER COUNTY, Miss. (WLOX) - Health officials are taking action after a recent increase in the number of hepatitis A infections in Pearl River County. The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) will be offering free hepatitis A vaccinations to those at risk as part of an ongoing effort to control the spread of the disease statewide.
The free vaccinations will be available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, December 4th through Friday, December 6th at the Pearl River County Health Department located at 7547 Highway 11 North, in Carriere.
Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that can be spread when a person ingests the virus through food or drink that is contaminated with the feces of an infected person or through close personal contact (including sexual contact) with an infected person; and sharing or handling objects with someone who is infected.
Symptoms of hepatitis A include nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting; jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes); and stomach pain, low appetite and fever.
Persons at risk for hepatitis A infection should consider vaccination during this special clinic. You may be at risk if you have been in close contact with someone who has hepatitis A or if you know someone with hepatitis A infection.
Other at risk who should get this vaccination include:
- Drug users
- Those recently incarcerated
- The homeless or those in unstable housing
- Men who have sex with men
- Close contacts with anyone in these groups
Mississippi is one of numerous states nationwide that has seen a sharp increase in the number of hepatitis A cases in recent months. Since April, Mississippi has reported 82 cases of the illness. Compare that to 2018, when there were only 13 cases for the entire year.
Hepatitis A can be prevented through a vaccine. Other prevention measures include practicing strong hygiene habits such as thoroughly washing your hands after using the bathroom.
For more information on hepatitis A, visit the MSDH website at HealthyMS.com/hepA.