An alarming surge of hepatitis A infections has struck the homeless community in Portland, Maine. The outbreak, which began several months ago, has already affected over a dozen people. Experts from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have confirmed a total of 18 cases as of November 20th. Defined as an occurrence of three or more linked cases of a disease, this outbreak has raised concerns among local health officials and advocates for the homeless population.
While the majority of cases are concentrated within the homeless community in Portland, there have been reports of infections beyond this demographic. One case was diagnosed in an employee at the Green Elephant Bistro, highlighting the potential for the disease to spread outside the homeless encampments. Additionally, three cases were reported in Androscoggin County, indicating a wider distribution of the virus.
Advocates for the homeless have attributed the outbreak to the lack of access to clean water for drinking and bathing. The absence of proper sanitation facilities poses a significant health risk and contributes to the spread of diseases such as hepatitis A.
Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver disease that can be transmitted through person-to-person contact or by consuming contaminated food or water. Infected individuals can unknowingly transmit the virus from two weeks before symptoms appear until one week after symptoms commence. The symptoms of hepatitis A include fatigue, nausea, abdominal pain, and jaundice.
In response to the public health threat posed by the outbreak, officials in Portland have taken steps to address the issue. Clearing out homeless encampments, they aim to alleviate health concerns and prevent further spread of hepatitis A. Vaccination is also crucial in preventing the disease. People who have been exposed to hepatitis A can protect themselves by getting vaccinated within 14 days after exposure.
Q: What is hepatitis A?
A: Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus.
Q: How does hepatitis A spread?
A: Hepatitis A can spread through person-to-person contact or by consuming contaminated food or water.
Q: How can I prevent hepatitis A?
A: The best way to prevent hepatitis A is by getting vaccinated. It is also important to practice good hygiene, such as washing hands thoroughly with soap and water.
Q: What are the symptoms of hepatitis A?
A: Symptoms of hepatitis A may include fatigue, nausea, abdominal pain, and jaundice.
Q: Where can I find more information about hepatitis A?
A: For more information about hepatitis A, please refer to reliable sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or your local health department.