JOPLIN, Mo. — There’s a rise in cases of Hepatitis A reported in and around Joplin over the past several months.
You might be more familiar with Hepatitis B or C, but Hepatitis A can also make you very sick.
It’s spread from one person to another when someone with the disease touches objects or food after using the restroom without proper hand washing.
Ryan Talken with the Joplin Health Department says they’ve had more cases in the last 6 months than they usually have in a whole year’s time.
“In a typical year, it’s normally anywhere from zero cases, maybe one possibly up to two cases. So, with having 14 of them, that is a significant amount,” says Talken.
Hepatitis A is a liver infection that can cause severe symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, and jaundice or a yellowing of the skin or eyes, and, in some cases, even death.
He says hand washing is one of the best ways to prevent the illness. Meanwhile, members of the homeless community, drug users, and homosexual men are at an increased risk for getting the illness.
He says none of the 14 cases in Joplin are linked to any restaurants.
It’s part of an ongoing Hepatitis A outbreak in Missouri that has been going on since September 2017.
As of January 14, 2020, 618 cases have been reported in the Show Me State, linked to the outbreak.