The Louisiana Office of Public Health (OPH) is investigating an outbreak of hepatitis A virus (HAV) infections in Louisiana.
According to the LDH, less than 5 of those cases have been reported in Lafayette Parish.
Officials say that the increase in cases mirrors the hepatitis A outbreaks occurring in other states, which are affecting certain risk groups:
- People reporting drug use (injection and non-injection),
- People experiencing homelessness,
- Men who have sex with men,
- Incarcerated or recently incarcerated individuals, and
- People who have been in close contact of someone infected with Hepatitis A.
While HAV infections usually resolve without treatment, illnesses and deaths in the current national outbreaks have been higher than usual due to older age and underlying health conditions, especially chronic liver disease, of people affected.
The public health response has included notifications to healthcare providers, offering vaccinations to people who are at high risk for HAV, and public education campaigns.
According to reports, since 1999, when routine HAV immunization of children was recommended, the number of yearly reported cases of hepatitis A fell dramatically from over 200 cases in 1999 to only eight cases reported in 2017 in Louisiana.
As of December 21, 2018, Louisiana has 29 reported cases of HAV infection, three of which are not linked to the current outbreak.
Read our original story on the outbreak here.