Six cases of Hepatitis A diagnosed in August in Spokane County

Hepatitis A is on the rise in Spokane County. The infection affects your liver and causes flu-like symptoms. Spokane Regional Health District said the outbreak has grown to 15 cases.

A third of those cases were diagnosed in the last two weeks. 80% of those patients were forced to go to the hospital for the severity of their symptoms. From 2001 to 2017, Spokane County on average sees up to five cases of Hepatitis A each year, according to the regional health district.

The overall risk for Hepatitis A in Spokane County is very low for the general population. The health district is more concerned for vulnerable populations, like the homeless, because of their lack of access to sanitation. However, that’s not to say the general population can’t get it.

The easiest thing you can do to prevent the virus is to wash your hands. This all goes back to your preschool skills. Take some soap and warm water, and get to scrubbing. This is your best chance at preventing the virus.

Hepatitis A is normally brought into the area because of people traveling.

“The fact that we have 15 cases that are locally transmitted here is concerning,” said Anne Halloran, epidemiologist, Spokane Regional Health District.

Symptoms can range in severity, so it’s possible you might not even know you’re infected.

“Jaundice, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, headache. But again, there’s a spectrum of symptoms, at times, with people and sometimes that’s mild and sometimes that’s more severe,” Halloran said.

Hepatitis A is spread through what the medical community calls the ‘fecal-oral route.’ Which means what it sounds.

“Someone has to ingest some microscopic amounts of fecal material in order to become sick,” Halloran said.

Here’s a common example.

“Be sick with Hepatitis A, go to the bathroom,not wash their hands, and then make food for someone else. That can be one of the ways for someone to become sick,” Halloran said.

There is a vaccination you can get to further prevent getting Hepatitis A. That vaccination has become one of the routine shots you typically get during an annual check-up. However, it came out around the late 90s and early 2000s.

“People who are in their upper 20s, 30s, 40s, those individuals didn’t likely receive vaccination as children,” Halloran said.

If you have any questions, your best bet is to call your doctor. If you learn that you haven’t received the hepatitis a vaccination yet, there are several places where you can get it for free:

Rite Aid

112 N Howard, Suite 115 Spokane, WA 99201

Rite Aid

5840 N Division St Spokane, WA 99208

Rite Aid

2929 E 29th Ave Spokane, WA 99201

Providence House of Charity Medical Clinic

32 W 2nd Ave Spokane, WA 99201

NATIVE Project

1803 W Maxwell Ave Spokane, WA 99201
Appointment needed, call 509-483-7535