Oregon health officials resolve to prevent the spread of a highly contagious disease—-Hepatitis A. County health departments are stocking up on vaccines with strategies to reach the most vulnerable populations.
Hepatitis A spreads through dirty food and water and close contact with infected people. Outbreaks tend to be foodborne or involve international travelers. In some parts of the U.S., rates of the disease have reached unprecedented levels… especially among the homeless.
Dr. Patrick Luedtke is Senior Public Health Officer in Lane County. He says they’ve requested additional Hepatitis A vaccines from the Oregon Health Authority to reach at-risk groups.
“They might be homeless, they might have a substance abuse issue, they might be intermittently incarcerated. So we’re focusing on those populations to make sure that Lane County and Oregon in general doesn’t see an outbreak with thousands of cases. That’s a frightening idea.”
Public health nurses are administering the two-dose Hepatitis A vaccine at the Lane County jail and various homeless tent camps. Going into the new year, Dr. Luedtke says Oregon counties are seeing nothing above normal levels of Hepatitis-A cases and they want to keep it that way.