Garfield County offers vaccination and education in response to state’s Hepatitis A outbreak
Since October 2018, Colorado’s Hepatitis A outbreak has sickened over 300 people and taken the lives of two.
Subsequently, Garfield County Public Health has ramped up its educational outreach surrounding the contagious virus by encouraging routine hygiene practices and the Hepatitis A vaccine itself to those without it already.
According to Garfield County Public Health Immunization Coordinator Danielle Dudley, no confirmed Hepatitis A cases have been reported in Garfield County during the current outbreak.
A liver infection caused by the Hepatitis A virus, symptoms of Hepatitis A can last for weeks or months and may include fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea and jaundice, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Hepatitis A generally spreads when an individual unknowingly ingests objects, food or beverages contaminated with undetected amounts of stool from an infected person, according to the CDC.
Hepatitis A can also spread as a result of close, personal contact with an infected person.
According to a recent Garfield County news release, “the risk of illness to the general public is low.”
Garfield County Public Health does offer the Hepatitis A vaccine to high-risk individuals at no cost.
According to the news release, affected individuals have primarily been “experiencing homelessness or unstable living conditions; people with substance abuse issues; and people who are or have recently been incarcerated in city or county jail facilities.”
Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario said the Sheriff’s Office was taking extra precautions at the county jail, such as providing the Hepatitis A vaccine to inmates.
“I can’t say that every jail is doing that but we certainly are,” Vallario said. “We’re trying to get a handle on it.”
Eighteen of Colorado’s 64 counties have reported cases of Hepatitis A as part of the outbreak, with the vast majority being along the Front Range.
Denver County reported 92 Hepatitis A cases and El Paso County confirmed 133 cases, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Adults and children over 12 months of age may receive the Hepatitis A vaccine at either of Garfield County’s Public Health offices in Glenwood Springs (2014 Blake Ave.) or Rifle (195 W. 14th St.).
“It’s not something too many people pay out of pocket for,” Dudley said. “Most insurances do cover it.”
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