DENVER — Right now there’s a deadly Hepatitis A outbreak sweeping many parts of the country, including in Colorado.
So far this year, Colorado is seeing double the number of cases from last year. In just the first 9 months of 2017, the state has seen 57 cases of Hepatitis A.
In all of 2016, Colorado only recorded 23 cases.
The Colorado Health Department says it’s seeing an increase in cases among gay and bisexual men, and the homeless. That’s why homeless shelters like the Denver Rescue Mission are taking precautions.
The Denver Rescue Mission is training staff on how to handle open wounds and is considering buying Hepatitis A vaccines for clients. But at $99 apiece, that may be a financial challenge.
Hepatitis A is a virus that attacks the liver, and can infect someone from fecal contamination.
“If you eat out, if you like any kind of fruits and vegetables, at some point you will be exposed to this virus and you could get sick from it,” said Dr. Michelle Barron, UC Health’s Medial Director of Infection Prevention and Control.
Dr. Barron says Hepatitis A is highly contagious and can be spread by unwashed hands, contaminated food or drinks, or sexual transmission.
“Typically, after you ingest this, within a couple of days you feel like you have flu-like symptoms, not quite feeling right, low-grade fever, maybe some body aches, and then you turn bright yellow,” said Dr. Barron.
If you show signs, you should be immediately tested, diagnosed and treated.
Hepatitis A is typically not deadly, but so far more than a dozen people have died from the disease this year in southern California.
The best way to stay safe is to get a vaccine and always properly wash your hands.