As if you needed another reason to wash your hands.
One of the most common inquiries coming our way recently has been regarding the Hepatitis A outbreak and how to protect individuals and loved ones from this once rare infection in the US.
As you may know, this is an epidemic not only effecting San Diego, but also Los Angeles County and Santa Cruz. Hepatitis A contamination has been in mostly at-risk communities including the homeless population, illicit drug users, and due to lack of sanitary facilities. It is spread from person to person through contact with a fecal contaminated environment, specifically when the Hepatitis virus is taken in by mouth from contact with contaminated objects, food, or drinks.
Now… how do we prevent this disease from spreading, and how do we protect ourselves and our families?
This may be intuitive, but the most basic prevention method is to always wash your hands after using the restroom and before eating!
Vaccine prevention is also available. Under the Affordable Care Act there are certain vaccines categorized as ‘Preventive’ and, if you have insurance, are administered at a $0 cost to the patient. The Hepatitis A vaccine is only covered as ‘Preventive Care’ with most insurance carriers for at risk adults.
Risk factors for Hepatitis A include the following populations:
- Persons with clotting factor disorders or liver disease
- men who have sex with men
- users of illegal drugs
- persons working with Hepatitis A virus
- persons traveling to or working in countries that have a high or intermediate endemicity of Hepatitis A
Please consult your medical provider to see if you fall under the ‘at risk’ population.
The Hepatitis A vaccine is considered ‘Preventive Care’ under most insurance carriers for children from 12-23 months. It is a two dose vaccine where the second dose is administered at least 6 months after the first. After 23 months the vaccinations are covered if children have not previously been vaccinated and risk factors are present.
What happens if I do contract hepatitis A?
Consult your physician immediately! Symptoms can include fever, malaise, anorexia, nausea, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, and jaundice. In children younger than age 6 most infections are asymptomatic. Hepatitis A signs and symptoms usually last less than 2 moths. Hepatitis A can be fatal and should not be taken lightly. Please access care if you suspect contamination.
As always, consult your medical physician for further information. Stay safe and don’t forget to wash your hands!
San Diego Community Walk-In Clinics Administering Hepatitis A Vaccine:
City of San Diego:
Central Region Public Health Center 5202 University Ave. (619) 229-5400
North Central Public Health Center 5055 Ruffin Rd. (858) 573-7300
South Region Public Health Center 690 Oxford St. (behind Costco) (619) 409-3110
East Region Public Health Center 367 N. Magnolia Ave., Suite 101 (619) 441-6500
North Inland Public Health Center 649 W. Mission Ave., Suite 2 (760) 740-3000
Ramona Public Health Office 1521 Main St. (760) 740-3000
Fallbrook Public Health Office 202 W. College Avenue (760) 967-4401
New Hope Church 10330 Carmel Mountain Road (760) 740-3000
North Coastal Public Health Center 3609 Ocean Ranch Blvd., Ste. 104 (new address as of Feb. 21, 2017) (760) 967-4401
Solana Beach Presbyterian Church 120 Stevens Ave. (760) 967-4401