Hepatitis A still presents a health risk to Georgians. Through the months of June-December of 2018 there were 67 confirmed cases of hepatitis A in Georgia, health officials confirmed. From January-April 2019 there have been an increased number of 214 confirmed cases of hepatitis A in the state. The Coastal Health District has also received seven confirmed cases of the virus in 2019 with one being in Liberty County.
Hepatitis A is a contagious liver infection which is caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). HAV can cause mild to severe gastrointestinal illness and can be spread via person-to-person contact through fecal-oral exposure. It can also be transmitted through contaminated food and water. Once contracted, the average incubation of the infection is 15-50 days, and patients are infectious for about 14 days prior to the start of symptoms, to 7 days after the onset of symptoms.
The symptoms of HAV include: nausea, loss of appetite, tiredness, fever, stomach pain, brown-colored urine and light-colored stools, and the yellowing of skin and eyes.
The best way to protect yourself against HAV is to get vaccinated. The Liberty County Health Department assures the public that these vaccines are safe to get and are effective at preventing the infection. Another way to protect against hepatitis A is to carefully wash your hands for about 20 seconds, including underneath your fingernails, with both soap and water. Washing your hands can also help protect against other diseases. A lot of the hepatitis A virus is spread when a person unknowingly comes in contact with contaminated objects, food, and drinks which has been tarnished by an infected person. A person can spread the virus when not properly washing hands after using the restroom.