Brendan Keany

Hepatitis A Clinic Held Yesterday in Buffalo

There have already been more than 20 reported cases this year

October 11, 2018 - 4:00 am

BUFFALO (WBEN) - Yesterday, the Jesse Nash Health Center held an Hepatitis A clinic from 3 p.m - 7 p.m.

At least five people were infected after eating at Doino's Pizza in Cheektowaga, when one of the food handlers tested positive for the virus, however according to a front desk worker, just a handful of people came in.

Medical Director of the Erie County Health Department, Heather Territo, describes exactly what Hep A is.

"Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver," she said. "It's caused by a virus that causes the liver to have some damage."

Territo says the main symptoms to watch out for are jaundice, which is a yellowing of the skin or eyes, as well as abdominal pain. Also look out for joint pain, fatigue, loss of appetite, abnormally-colored urine or bowel movements and fever.

This year has been especially bad for outbreaks in Erie County, as we've seen about ten times the number of cases this year as in a typical year. Usually, two patients are diagnosed with the virus, but this year there has already been more than 20 reported cases.

Territo suggests receiving the vaccination not only because one can't be sure where or when an outbreak will star, but also because the Hepatitis A vaccine is safe.

"We can't predict where we might see any new outbreaks. All it takes is one restaurant worker or someone to pass it on to get hundreds of people affected," she said. 

And then talking about the vaccine:

"It's very safe," said Territo. "You can't get the disease from the vaccination, and the vaccination is offered in a two-series. So, you get once vaccination today, and then you need a second does six months later. But, it is over 95 percent effective even after just the first dose."

While yesterday's clinic was special, there are still ways to obtain the vaccine if you couldn't get to the clinic.

"We offer the vaccine at our immunization clinic, which runs two days a month," said Territo.

The severity of the symptoms and length of the illness vary from person to person, but some positive news is that Hep A doesn't linger with the host.

"Typically, Hepatitis A is an acute infection that kind of runs it course, and once it's over, you're cured," said Territo. "It doesn't last forever or linger around like Hepatitis B or C might."

For more information, call the Erie County Health Department at (716) 858-7697.

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