CARROLL COUNTY, Ga. — An outbreak of Hepatitis A has public health and medical officials in Carroll County on high alert.
“What we are seeing I would describe it as a cluster of patients right now that are coming in with Hepatitis A. These patients are presenting to the emergency department with complaints of nausea, vomiting, jaundice, abdominal pain, fatigue,” said Dr. Thelma Wiley-Lucas, gastroenterologist at Tanner Hospital in Carrollton and Villa Rica.
According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, there have been 509 confirmed cases of Hepatitis A statewide since the beginning of the year. Carroll County is responsible for 47 of those confirmed cases.
“This has actually been an ongoing issue that we have seen in Carroll County,” said Alexandria Marbury, an opioid public health analyst for District 4 which encompasses Butts, Carroll, Coweta, Fayette, Heard, Henry, Lamar, Meriwether, Pike, Spalding, Troup and Upson Counties. “We had a lot of patients reporting to the ER with certain symptoms and reporting that they had been using IV or illicit drugs."
The Carroll County Heath Department said the 47 Hepatitis A cases occurred in a span of seven months, from April 1 to Nov. 16 of this year. According to the CDC, Georgia is one of 29 states experiencing an outbreak.
Hepatitis A is a viral infection that can cause inflammation and damage to the liver. It’s also very contagious, which means handwashing is very important, especially amidst the holiday season and ongoing pandemic.
“This particular virus is spread through what we call the fecal-oral route. It’s in the feces. And so, patients who are in close contact with each other are more likely to get it. If you have a person who is preparing food for other people, they can spread it in that way. Just good handwashing is going to be important overall. We know that for coronavirus it’s important that we distance and have good handwashing, but certainly if you are in a position where you know someone who has been sick, you want to be very careful with anyone eating food, preparing food,” Dr. Wiley-Lucas said.
On a good note, Hepatitis A is 100% preventable if you get a vaccine.
If you live in Carroll County, the health department is offering it for free whether you have insurance or not. The event is December 3rd from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm at the Carroll County Department of Community Supervision located at 924 Maple Street, Carrollton, Georgia 30117.
Also, because World AIDS Days is December 1st, the health department is also providing HIV rapid-testing at the event.