06/14/07 — Hepatitis warning issued

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Hepatitis warning issued

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on June 14, 2007 1:45 PM

A recent outbreak of Hepatitis A in McDowell County has prompted local health officials to alert the public about the virus, especially anyone who may have been exposed to it.

The incident reportedly occured at Earthaven, an eco village communal living farm. Anyone who may have spent time there since May 25 is being asked to contact a physician for treatment of possible exposure.

Carolyn King, health education supervisor with Wayne County Health Department, said the treatment is to be vaccinated with a shot of immune globulin. If received within two weeks of exposure, symptoms of Hepatitis A are more unlikely.

Hepatitis A, or HAV, is a liver infection and the most common type of viral hepatitis, she explained. It usually causes temporary liver inflammation and most recover without long-term problems. The virus can be spread for at least two weeks before symptoms develop.

Symptoms may include jaundice, fatigue, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhea and fever. They usually last less than two months.

Hepatitis A infection can also be prevented by avoiding food that has been prepared by someone infected with HAV and has poor hygiene; raw or undercooked shellfish, such as oysters or clams; uncooked food or tap or well water while traveling in foreign countries where hepatitis A is common.

Health official also advised frequent hand washing with soap and water, particularly after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, and before preparing and eating food.