Public health emergency declared over Hepatitis A outbreak

Written by The Associated Press | Aug 1, 2019 5:32 PM
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FILE PHOTO: In this Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019 photo Worcester, Mass. police officer Angel Rivera, right, returns a license to an unidentified man as Rivera asks if he has been tested for Hepatitis A at the entrance to a tent where the man spent the night in a wooded area, in Worcester, Mass. Dan Cahill, City of Worcester sanitary inspector, walks behind center. The city was hit hard when recent hepatitis A outbreaks across the country started sickening and killing homeless people and illicit drug users. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

(Philadelphia) -- Officials in Philadelphia have declared a public health emergency due to an ongoing outbreak of Hepatitis A.

Health care providers have been directed to help vaccinate those most at risk for infection to stop the outbreak.

The health department says the city usually sees between two to six cases of Hepatitis A per year. Since January, the department has been notified of 154 cases.

Hepatitis Type A is an infection of the liver caused by a virus that is spread by the fecal-oral route, either through personal contact or consumption of contaminated food or water.

It's particularly dangerous for older people and those with underlying liver disease.

WHYY reports that public bathrooms and hand-washing stations will be deployed in the Kensington neighborhood to combat the outbreak. The spread has been traced in part to human feces on the streets and parks in the area.

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