The State Health Department confirms one person has died from Hepatitis A in East Tennessee, that death not happening in Knox County.
This particular outbreak is unique in that it’s hitting three particular groups; those experiencing homelessness, recreational drug users and men having sex with men, according to Nurse Dir., Dena Mashburn with the Knox County Health Department.
“What makes this a little different in relation to that is this is a pretty vulnerable population,” said Mashburn. “They often are sick or not at the best health condition to start with, so more of them are ending up in the hospital and more of them are dying of hepatitis.”
In partnership with the state, Knox County’s Health Department has been vaccinating as many people as they can who are within these risk groups.
“We have been getting to treatment centers, we’ve been going to homeless shelters, we’ve been on the streets,” said Mashburn.
Giving a more than 800 vaccines in the last few months.
There are 449 people with the liver disease across the state. A total of 279 people are hospitalized.
The Metro Health Department says 142 cases of Hepatitis A have been reported in Nashville alone over the last year.
The highest concentration of Hepatitis A is in the counties surrounding Nashville, where there are more than 200 cases. The area includes Rutherford, Wilson, Williamson, Cheatham, Robertson, Sumner, Dickson, Humphreys, Houston, Stewart, Montgomery, and Trousdale Counties.
Hepatitis A is a contagious liver infection that is spread person-to-person, through drug use and in the feces of infected people. Most people become sick about a month after being infected. The illness can range from mild to serious. Someone with Hepatitis A can be contagious for two weeks before and one week after they show symptoms.
The State Health Department says the Hepatitis A vaccine is extremely effective and covered by insurance. Talk to your doctor, pharmacist or county health department.