The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting a nationwide outbreak of hepatitis A, primarily among people who use illicit drugs (injection and non-injection) and those who are homeless. More than 15,000 cases, 8,500 hospitalizations, and 140 deaths as a result of hepatitis A virus (HAV) infection have been reported since 2016.
“CDC recommends that public health departments, healthcare providers, and other partners serving affected populations launch a rapid and effective public health response,” including offering vaccinations to targeted populations. For healthcare providers specifically, CDC recommends screening patients for risk factors (drug use, homelessness, incarceration, sex between men, and chronic liver disease); administering the hepatitis A vaccine to at-risk patients, especially those whose only point of contact with the health system is through an emergency department; reporting immunizations and diagnoses with the state; and considering hepatitis A as a diagnosis in anyone with jaundice or clinically compatible symptoms.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health along with local boards of health is tracking the outbreak of hepatitis A in Massachusetts. Information about the outbreak in the commonwealth, its epidemiology, as well as educational materials is all available here