Hepatitis A

ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) A highly contagious virus is causing a growing concern in Georgia as health officials say they're working to get cases of Hepatitis A under control.

Hepatitis A infections are growing rapidly among three groups: homosexual men, the transient population and drug users.

Since January 24, 214 cases of Hepatitis A have been reported across the state. That's nearly 10 times the amount of cases in all of 2017, when only 24 were reported. In 2016, there were 37.

County health officials have been tracking the outbreak for two years as it has moved across the country.

"Hepatitis is spread thru the fecal oral route, so anyone who is living in unsanitary conditions are at higher risk- so this probably explains people who are experiencing homelessness and people who use drugs," says Dr. David Holland with the Fulton County Board of Health. "One of the key features of this particular outbreak has been a large percentage of people who got extremely sick and required hospitalization and actually, a surprising number of people who have died, which is very unusual."

Sometimes there are no symptoms but things that might alert someone to the infection include: extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, abdominal pain and jaundice.

Right now, to get a handle on the spread of the infection, the county is offering free vaccines to the three groups highest at risk and encouraging children to be vaccinated as early as possible.

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