WILLCOX — Local authorities are working with the Cochise County Health Department to curb a hepititis A outbreak in Cochise County.

Leslie Johns, with the Health Department, spoke to the Willcox Health Community Committee last Tuesday, May 28, and discussed the ongoing outbreak. So far, nine individuals in Cochise County have contracted the infection of the liver.

“Hep A is easy to catch because it’s transferred (via the) oral-fecal route. You can catch it from contaminated food, and it can remain live on surfaces for up to 17 hours. The good news is that it’s vaccine preventable,” Johns said. “It’s a two-step vaccine, but if you only manage to get the vaccine once, you are protected up to 11 years, the research shows. If you get the two vaccines as an adult, you will be protected up to the rest of your life.”

Those who are at risk of contracting hepititis A are the incarcerated, homeless and individuals who may be having oral sex. Individuals who volunteer with the homeless are also at risk of contracting the illness.

The Willcox Police Department has spent multiple hours working with the Cochise County Health Department in the effort to get vaccinations to the homeless population, and Willcox Food Pantry volunteers have set up a vaccination booth with the Cochise County Health Department.

“The best way to avoid this is to get the vaccine and wash your hands,” Johns said.

Symptoms of hepititis A include:

• Fatigue

• Sudden nausea and vomiting

• Abdominal pain or discomfort, especially on the upper right side beneath the lower ribs, by the liver

• Clay-colored bowel movements

• Loss of appetite

• Low-grade fever

• Dark urine

• Joint pain

• Yellowing of the skin and the whites of one’s eyes (jaundice)

• Intense itching

To find out more about upcoming hepititis A vaccination clinics, contact 1-833-670-5786.

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