Hepatitis A and B number up in Mississippi

Published 7:00 am Friday, August 3, 2018

The number of acute hepatitis A and B cases is on the rise in Mississippi. While District Nine, which includes Pearl River County, has not seen any instances of acute HAV, there have been reported cases of acute strain of HBV locally.

According to statistics by Dr. Paul Byers, State Epidemiologist, in 2017 Mississippi had a total of three acute HAV cases and 45 acute HBV cases. Of those, District Nine reported one case of acute HAV and 17 cases of acute HBV.

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As of July 31 this year, there have been nine cases of acute HAV cases, the statistics state. So far, no cases of the A strain have been detected in District Nine. Twenty-six cases of acute HBV have been reported across the state – more than half of 2017’s total statewide. Of those 26 cases, 13 were in District Nine, statistics state.

Our Lady of the Lake Licensed Nurse Practitioner Donna Lehmann said HAV and HBV are both preventable by vaccination. She said HAV is typically contracted when people go overseas to an area where the virus is common. Because of this, she recommends conducting research on the area before traveling and being vaccinated if that area is deemed high-risk.

HAV is transmitted through contact with the feces of a person who is infected with the virus. This is often spread by being in close contact with an infected person, including living in the same home and sharing drinks and food, the report states. HAV cannot become chronic. Rather, once someone has had HAV, they cannot have it again, the report states.

Unlike HAV, HBV is more common locally, she said.

Lehmann said children are usually given their HBV vaccination at infancy through a series of three injections. She said this has been a common procedure since about 2000 to help prevent the spread of the virus.

HBV is found in blood and some other bodily fluids. According to the report, HBV is spread through sharing needles, unprotected sex with an infected person or exposure to the blood of an infected person. HBV has a very high chance of becoming chronic in children who are infected, the report states.

Hepatitis C is also located in the bloodstream and cannot be prevented with vaccinations. Byers said via email correspondence that the Mississippi Health Department does not have data available for HCV.

Lehmann said if anyone suspects they may have a strain of hepatitis to immediately see a physician and submit a blood sample for testing. She said their clinic does not carry hepatitis B vaccinations but they are available at local Health Departments in Mississippi.