Hepatitis A outbreak has NC doctors, health professionals on high alert

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DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Doctors and health professionals across North Carolina are paying close attention to a new strain of Hepatitis A. 

“With this recent outbreak, we have seen more deaths related to Hepatitis A, so that’s made us more aware of it and wanting to react,” said Dr. Andrew Muir, who works at Duke University’s School of Medicine.   

North Carolina had its first Hepatitis A related death in October. It is spread through food or water that has been contaminated with small amounts of feces from a contagious person.

Muir believes the state could see more cases.  

“It is possible,” he said. “So if there are cases of Hepatitis A, our health department will be engaged and we will try to understand where the case is and how to stop more spread of Hepatitis A.”  

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services told CBS 17 that 64 cases have already been reported this year. More than half of those people ended up in the hospital.  

Muir is not sure why North Carolina is seeing the spread of this Hepatitis A, but added there’s one way to help prevent it.  

“For all of us, we should be washing our hands, as well and minimizing the risk that we are passing something along to someone else,” he said.  

Symptoms include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite and stomach pain. Muir said do not wait until it’s too late if you think you’ve become infected.  

“If you are concerned that you might have Hepatitis A, be seen. Reach out and get evaluated so that you can get good care and get nurse through the infection,” he said. 

Muir explained that this is not the kind of infection you can get by simply being around someone. Hepatitis A comes from close contact. 

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