BUCKHANNON — A single case of hepatitis A has now been reported in Upshur County as an outbreak affecting the southern part of West Virginia continues to spread to additional counties.
According to Sue McKisic, administrator and nurse director for Upshur-Buckhannon Health Department, one case of hepatitis A was reported to the department last week and is not restaurant related.
“Over the last eight weeks the state has had an average of about 70 new cases being reported each week,” McKisic said. “The outbreak has mainly affected the southern part of the state from Kanawha County down. It is moving north but not very fast.
“We do not want mass hysteria, as this is not an outbreak in Upshur County,” continued McKisic.
The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources released an update on Sept. 28 which indicated hepatitis A had been reported in 33 West Virginia counties. There have been a total of around 1,395 reported cases, resulting in 52 percent being hospitalized and three deaths, according to the report.
McKisic went on to say that the majority of the cases reported in the outbreak has mainly been individuals experiencing homelessness, as well as users of illicit drugs, both intravenous and non-intravenous.
Although the case in Upshur County was not restaurant related, McKisic did say that the Upshur-Buckhannon Health Department’s sanitarian has been notifying restaurants in the area to remain vigilant about washing their hands. McKisic also urges all citizens to wash their hands regularly before preparing or eating food, and after using the restroom to help stop the spread of the virus.
According to McKisic, the Health Department is offering vaccinations to all first responders and their families, as well as participants in the department’s harm reduction program.
McKisic also said that Community Care is also recommending that individuals within the school system get the vaccine.
Children with a West Virginia medical card can receive the vaccination free of charge at the department.
For other community members, the health department can bill the insurance of those who would also like to receive the vaccine.