1 death reported in hepatitis A outbreak; 400 cases reported statewide

Posted at 11:12 AM, Nov 14, 2018

One death has been reported in Tennessee’s hepatitis A outbreak. More than 400 cases have been reported across the state. 

The Tennessee Department of Health said the outbreak most heavily affects Nashville and Chattanooga. The death was reported out of East Tennessee.

“We are very saddened by the recent death associated with hepatitis A and realize unfortunately, we could see more deaths, as this continues to be a very serious outbreak with more than half of the people identified with the illness needing hospitalization,” said TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. “We will continue to respond aggressively, vaccinating high risk populations, educating and working with partners in and out of Tennessee to seek additional ways to stem this outbreak.” 

The outbreak is linked to a large, multi-state outbreak that began in 2017. Health officials said it’s primarily affecting recreational drug users and people experiencing homelessness. 

Those at greatest risk of exposure to hepatitis A in the current outbreak include:

  • People who use drugs (not just injection drug use)
  • Men who have sexual contact with men
  • Individuals experiencing homelessness

More than 36,000 doses of the vaccine have been provided to those most at risk. 

Steps to prevent infection include washing hands with soap and water after using the bathroom, before eating and before preparing or serving food. Officials said to get vaccinated if you are at high risk for getting hepatitis A.