Health District: Number of hepatitis A cases continue to rise in Spokane County

Health District: Number of hepatitis A cases continue to rise in Spokane County
A microscopic image of the Hepatitis A virus, taken by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Spokane Regional Health District has confirmed 47 cases of hepatitis A in Spokane County.

That number of cases has increased from June, when the department only had three confirmed cases.
SRHD said most cases are occurring in people who are experiencing homelessness and/or who are using drugs. The risk to the general population of acquiring hepatitis A is low.

RELATED: Three Hepatitis A cases confirmed in Spokane County

The health district said their disease prevention and response team has coordinated multiple vaccination clinics since June when the outbreak was declared. They have administered over 1,335 vaccines within Spokane County’s homeless and incarcerated populations.

The team has also conducted programs and outreach to healthcare providers, homeless service providers and community centers.

“The increase in cases is not unexpected, explained Dr. Bob Lutz, SRHD health officer. “Once contracted, the hepatitis A virus has an incubation period that could have begun before a vaccine was administered. As we work diligently to ensure those at risk receive the vaccine, the number of cases will decrease; our prompt attention has kept the virus from spreading even further.”

Hepatitis A affects the liver and causes flu-like symptoms.

SRHD is working with homeless service providers to make the vaccine available. It can also be obtained from healthcare providers and pharmacies.

RELATED: Six cases of Hepatitis A diagnosed in August in Spokane County

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