BOISE — There is a spike in hepatitis A infections in the Treasure Valley, according to a bulletin issued Feb. 26 to health care providers by the Central District Health Department.
There have been six cases of hepatitis A reported among Ada and Elmore county residents since Jan. 1, the department said.
That’s abnormal. Usually, the area has one or two cases in a whole year.
All of the six patients so far have been men in the 30-to-60 age range, the bulletin said.
And it appears the infections are being spread locally. Only one of the hepatitis A patients said he was traveling during the time when he likely was exposed to the disease.
Health officials haven’t identified any other risk factors the patients might share, the bulletin said.
There is an ongoing hepatitis A outbreak across many states, mostly affecting IV drug users and homeless individuals. The outbreak has spread to Utah, where 295 people have been infected since March 2017, mostly in Salt Lake County.
“Hepatitis A virus is typically spread person-to-person through fecal-oral transmission,” the department’s bulletin said.
It can spread through food that has been handled or in contact with someone infected with hep A.
Symptoms include nausea, lack of appetite, fever, discomfort or abdominal pain. One key symptom is jaundice — when the skin and/or whites of the eyes develop a yellow tint.
“Older children and adults usually develop jaundice, but young children are often asymptomatic,” the bulletin said. “The average incubation period for hepatitis A is 28 days with a range of 15 to 50 days ...”
Health care providers can diagnose a patient through checking for symptoms and running blood tests.
Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable disease.