The Gloucester County Department of Health announced Wednesday there had been a spike in the amount of reported Hepatitis A cases in the southern New Jersey county. County officials said there had been eight reported cases of the disease in the last nine weeks. Typically less than 10 cases are reported a year.
Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that can spread when a person ingests fecal matter, from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by the stool of an infected person.
Hepatitis A patients can be ill with the disease for a few weeks or even longer.
Gloucester County spokeswoman Debra Sellitto said the cases are not connected and the cause of the increase in reported cases has not yet been determined. The Gloucester County Department of Health said those who are at a higher risk of contracting Hepatitis A include the following:
– People who have close, personal contact with someone who has Hepatitis A
– People who are homeless
– People who use injected or non-injected street drugs
– Men who have sex with men
Sellitto also said the county does provide free Hepatitis A vaccinations to people who are uninsured.
“It is encouraged that the people who are more prone to contract Hepatitis A get vaccinated,” Sellitto said.
According to the New Jersey Department of Health, while final figures are still being determined for 2018, there were 71 cases of Hepatitis A in the state in 2017. In that same year, there were no reported cases of Hepatitis A in Gloucester County.
A Hepatitis A case was reported earlier this month after Cape May County officials announced a worker at an Ocean City Dunkin’ Donuts contracted the disease. The business was shut down for a few days while workers were tested, and the eatery was sanitized. At the time it was reported, Cape May County officials said between 40 and 50 people sought to be vaccinated.
Some of the symptoms include nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice, and dark urine. If anyone has experienced these symptoms, they are encouraged to seek medical attention immediately. For those who need more information, people can visit the Gloucester County Department of Health’s website, or call the department at (856) 218-4101.