Hamilton County is experiencing a spike in Hepatitis A. This year, Hepatitis cases are on the way up.

There have been 55 cases of Hepatitis A reported in Hamilton County. This time last year, the county had zero.

“This is a lot for us. It doesn't sound like a huge number but normally in Hamilton County we have zero,” said Connie Buecker, the Communicable Disease Clinic Program Manager at the Hamilton County Health Department.

The deadly Hepatitis A virus can spread easily, as it is passed from one person to another. Poor or no hand washing is the primary culprit.

“Hand washing of course is important. If people would do that, that fecal oral transition could be broken if people did a really good job washing hands.”

This year, more than 500 cases of Hepatitis A have been reported in the state of Tennessee. One person has died. The hardest hit areas are in Nashville and Chattanooga.

“Constant communication with the state department of health as well as other areas in the state. We have routine conference calls, where we look at what is happening and share what we are doing.  Get ideas and ways to partnership in other areas of the community we haven't already,” said Diana Kreider the Director of Clinical Services.

Hepatitis A is a liver infection. Symptoms are a lot like the flu, but more severe.

“Jaundice or yellowing in the whites of your eyes or skin is sort of a classic symptom. Abdominal pain, stool that is clay colored instead of brown, urine that is brown instead of yellow,” said Buecker.

Some people never become sick, but still spread the virus. The latest numbers show at least 32 men and 20 women in Hamilton County have contracted the virus.

“Our site in Tennessee seems to have more than some others, but our state is still not even as high as some other states have been.”

The Hamilton County Health Department is offering free vaccines for high-risk individuals, like the homeless.

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