EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. — El Paso County currently has the highest amount of hepatitis a cases in the state.
The Department of Public Health reported that two people have died in Colorado and nearly 300 other cases have been reported since the outbreak started in October of last year.
El Paso County seems to be the most impacted area, since the start of the outbreak last October the numbers of those infected have only multiplied.
Those most at risk of getting Hepatitis A include people experiencing homelessness, those with substance-use issues and people who are in jail or have been recently.
“These are person to person outbreaks that are fueled by people interacting with other people,” said Haley Zachary, El Paso County Public’s Health Lead Communicable Disease Epidemiologist. “There is no medication that will make it better, the symptoms will resolve on their own in a few weeks.”
The virus can be pretty serious, and people are often hospitalized.
“People [infected] will experience symptoms of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, but the telltale sign is actually people will turn yellow because it’s affecting their liver,” said Zachary. ” Hepatitis A is transmitted via the fecal-oral route. When a person who is infected with Hepatitis A uses the bathroom doesn’t wash their hands, then shares something, whether it’s an object or a food, that goes into somebody else’s mouth — that’s how the virus is transmitted.”
It’s 100% preventable through a vaccine.
Still, El Paso County is currently the county in the state with the most reported cases at 131 compared to Denver — a similar-sized county — has 84 active cases. Zachary said El Paso County updates those numbers weekly.
“Regardless of what number is. If it were one we want to get ahead of it,” said Travis Williams Springs Rescue Mission. “We take that very seriously, we work with El Paso County Health Department and follow their lead.”
The Springs Rescue Mission has hosted care clinics and offering vaccines at outreach events.