On Tuesday, officials with the Alabama Department of Public Health released a statement saying that the Hepatitis A outbreak in North Alabama is continuing to grow, and people should get vaccinated.
Jackson and DeKalb counties are still at risk, and officials say people need to be aware and take precautions. They say additional cases that may be related have been identified in Cherokee and Marshall counties, with March 3 as the last known symptom onset.
According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, there are 22 cases in Jackson County, 12 cases in DeKalb County and 1 case in Marshall County.
A vaccine exists that can reduce the risk of developing Hepatitis A. Health officials say homeless persons, illegal substance users and men with same sex partners are the most at risk to contract Hepatitis A, which can spread easily among unvaccinated persons. Officials say Hepatitis A is 100 percent preventable.
Good hand-washing practices should be observed. Symptoms of Hepatitis A may not appear until 15 to 50 days after exposure and can include fever, headache, fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, dark urine or jaundice, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.
Anyone who experiences symptoms should contact a healthcare provider and use measures to prevent spreading the foodborne illness that can last anywhere from a few weeks to several months.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hepatitis A is an infection of the liver that is not lifelong like other forms of Hepatitis.