Volume XII, Issue XXVII - January 2019


Illinois is experiencing a hepatitis A outbreak. The outbreak is characterized by a severe acute phase and high mortality. Local health departments are making vaccine available for free or at a reduced cost. Men who have sex with men, people who use drugs, and people who do not have a home should contact their health department about a free or reduced cost hepatitis A vaccine. Please warn your clients of this outbreak and assist them with access to the vaccine. Symptoms include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movements, joint pain, and jaundice.

Hepatitis A is an infection that can damage the liver and is passed from one person to another through food, water, drug use, and sex. This can happen when an infected person does not adequately wash his or her hands after using the bathroom and then touches other things, such as food. Usually the transmission is between people in very close personal contact.

Three flyers are attached for you to post within your facility and share widely with your network, including:

1) General information about symptoms and how hepatitis A is spread;

2) Instructions for clients and staff to pay close attention to deliberate hand washing; and

3) Other tips about hepatitis A prevention and control.

On average there are 70 cases of hepatitis A reported in Illinois each year. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is reporting 91cases statewide of hepatitis A in 2018. IDPH has identified 23 confirmed cases that are not associated with international travel and are not foodborne related. The majority of cases are among individuals at high risk for infection--including men who have sex with men, homeless individuals, and/or those who use drugs. Most of the outbreak cases are among men and the majority have been hospitalized. Five recent cases were reported in Edgar County, with additional cases reported in east-central Illinois, one in central Illinois, and two in suburban Cook County. Case information is updated on Wednesdays at www.dph.illinois.gov/hepatitis. For more information about hepatitis A, please visit www.dph.illinois.gov/hepatitis or www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/HAV/index.htm.

Please warn your clients of the hepatitis A outbreak and share this information widely with your networks. Contact your local health department to coordinate free (or reduced cost) vaccinations for your clients.