Outbreaks of hepatitis A have been occurring in states across the country since 2016, and they don’t appear to be slowing down.

Since May 2019, Minnesota has seen an increase of hepatitis A cases, which the Minnesota Department of Health has identified as an outbreak. Minnesota's outbreak-associated cases have risk factors consistent with the national outbreaks. As of Friday, Nov. 1, there were 49 reported cases in Minnesota, with the majority of the cases in the metro area. No cases have been reported in Wadena County at this time, according to a news release from Wadena County Public Health.

Hepatitis A is a serious liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus. It can make you very sick and lead to hospitalization and sometimes death. Symptoms are jaundice—yellowing of the skin or eyes, fever, fatigue, dark urine, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Hepatitis A is found in the feces of people with hepatitis A. It can be spread by having close personal contact with an infected person, such as living with or having sex with an infected person. It can also be spread by eating food or drinking water that has been contaminated with the hepatitis A virus. Sharing syringes and drug use equipment can also be a mode of transmission.

Those who are most at risk:

  • People who use injection and non-injection drugs.
  • People experiencing homelessness or unstable housing.

  • People who are currently or were recently incarcerated.

  • Men who have sex with men.

  • People with direct contact with someone who has hepatitis A.

  • Family members adopting a child from another country.

  • Travelers.

The best way to prevent hepatitis A infection is through vaccination and always washing hands with soap and water.

The hepatitis A series can be given to adults of all ages and children as early as 12 months of age. This vaccine is available at area medical clinics and local public health agencies.

For more information on hepatitis A, go to https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/hepatitis/a/index.html