The Department of Health and Senior Services says Missouri has had 414 Hepatitis A cases in 35 Missouri counties over a nearly two-year period. Butler County in southeast Missouri leads in the number of Hepatitis A cases with 108, followed by Franklin County in southeast Missouri with 69 and Howell County in southern Missouri with 45. View the rest of the counties on the list.
Of the cases, 233 people have been treated at a hospital and two people have died from the disease.
The state says the disease appears to be spreading through direct person-to-person contact, mostly among people who use illicit injection or non-injection drugs and their close contacts. Local public health agencies are working to vaccinate at-risk populations, including those who use recreational drugs, are homeless, men having sex with men, are in treatment or counseling for mishandling substances, work in a jail or detention center or have been jailed and have close contact with these groups.
Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver that can cause loss of appetite, nausea, tiredness, fever, stomach pain, brown colored urine, and light-colored stools. Yellowing of the skin or eyes might also occur. People can become ill up to seven weeks after being exposed to the virus.
Hepatitis A usually spreads when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food, or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool (feces) from an infected person. In addition to vaccination, careful hand washing with soap and water, including under the fingernails, after using the bathroom or changing diapers and before preparing or eating food can help to prevent the spread of this disease.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 29 states have publicly reported the number of Hepatitis A cases since the outbreaks were first identified in 2016. More than 24,000 U.S. cases have been reported since then. View the nationwide information here.