Archive for Sunday, July 15, 2001

Hepatitis A outbreak remains untraced

July 15, 2001

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— The 47 people in Reno County who have been diagnosed with hepatitis A in the last eight months didn't all get the virus from the same person or place, health officials say.

Health officials came to Reno County in June to try to determine a possible source of the virus. Food inspectors from the state health department also warned employees in Hutchinson's restaurants because the virus is most often transmitted through food or drink.

But Reno County Health Department Director Judy Seltzer said Friday that the virus can't be traced to just one source. She also said that no one in the last year has been infected by the virus as a result of going to a restaurant.

Although 47 Reno County residents have been diagnosed with hepatitis A since November, Seltzer said it should not be considered an epidemic. Instead, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment is calling it a "community outbreak."

Most of the cases in Reno County have been adults.

One concern has been that the outbreak be stopped before the Kansas State Fair, which is in Hutchinson in September.

Seltzer said the surest way to halt the spread is to keep people informed. Her department will continue tracking confirmed cases, she said.

Health officials have urged residents to wash their hands often. A hepatitis A vaccine also is available.

Symptoms of hepatitis A may include fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea, abdominal discomfort, dark urine and jaundice.

Children often do not shown signs of having the virus. Most of the time, the body can fight it off within a month, though frail or sickly people might be in more danger.

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