Henderson Co. Health Department investigating handful of Hepatitis A cases linked to IV drug use

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HENDERSON COUNTY, N.C. (WSPA) – Public health leaders in Henderson County are investigating a handful of Hepatitis A cases that have recently been reported.

Tracking a highly contagious virus and stopping the spread. That’s what leaders in Henderson County are doing now.

“It’s unusual enough that it’s a clustering or an outbreak,” said Henderson County Department of Public Health Medical Director, Dr. Diana Curran.

Four Hepatitis A cases have been reported there in a short time. It’s believed to have started with IV drug use.

It’s a problem Lynette Oliver has seen firsthand.

She’s the founder of an organization dedicated to helping people on their road to recovery. It’s called Back on Track Resale Store & Addiction Ministries.

“Monday night we have family support for all the families that are struggling with addiction. Tuesday night, we have recovery addict classes at 6:30,” said Founder/Owner of Back on Track Resale Store & Addiction Ministries, Lynette Oliver.

It’s a topic very near to Oliver’s heart. Her son died of an overdose.

Drug addiction is a dangerous trend she said she has noticed within the community, she told us especially IV drug use.

“We have placed 16 people since opening July 1, all of them were IV users except one,” Oliver told 7 News.

The trail it can leave behind is something the health department is watching.

“We’re trying to reach out to people who are high risk in the drug community,” Dr. Curran said.

Dr. Diana Curran said those who have contracted Hepatitis A have had severe cases, some of them needing to be hospitalized. She told 7 News, it can spread through contaminated food, water or contact with someone who is infected.

A Hepatitis A vaccine event is scheduled for Thursday afternoon at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Hendersonville.

Hepatitis A is preventable by vaccine. Symptoms can include fatigue, nausea, back pain and low-grade fever.

If you or someone who know is battling addiction, there are resources available. In Henderson County, Back on Track Resale Store & Addiction Ministries is located at 1900 Spartanburg Hwy in Hendersonville.

Additionally, you can find the number for the National Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration here:  1-800-662-HELP (4357).

You can find additional information from the Henderson County Department of Public Health below:

“The Henderson County Health Department is investigating four recent cases of severe Hepatitis A among individuals using intravenous or IV drugs.

The cases are unusual as the virus typically spreads through fecal-oral contact, such as in food-borne
outbreaks. Other counties in North Carolina (Stokes, Surry, Forsyth, Davidson, Caldwell and Mecklenburg) have seen similar cases among those using IV drugs.

Many of the individuals are also infected with chronic Hepatitis C. It is best practice for those infected with Hepatitis C to protect their liver with a vaccination against Hepatitis A and B. Individuals with a history of IV drug use and/or chronic Hepatitis C infection are recommended to get vaccinated.

Henderson County Department of Public Health is offering a Hepatitis A vaccine to the community on Thursday Sept. 17 from 1 to 3 p.m. at Ebenezer Baptist Church, 2557 Chimney Rock Road,
Hendersonville, NC 2879Uninsured people and those who are a close contact to a person infected with acute Hepatitis A can be vaccinated at no charge during this event or by appointment at the Henderson County Department of Public Health by calling 828-692-4223.

Hepatitis A is a self-limited disease that does not result in chronic infection. Most adults with hepatitis A have symptoms, including fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, and jaundice, that usually resolve within two months of infection. Most children less than six years of age do not have symptoms or have an unrecognized infection. Antibodies produced in response to hepatitis A infection last for life and protect against reinfection.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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