CINCINNATI -- Health officials will provide hepatitis A vaccines to inmates and staff in an effort to prevent an outbreak at the Hamilton County Justice Center.
The Cincinnati Health Department and Hamilton County Public Health will provide vaccines after four inmates tested positive for the virus. As of July 31, 152 inmates and staff members have been vaccinated, officials said.
Hamilton County Health Commissioner Tim Ingram said hepatitis A cases are on the rise, not only in Hamilton County, but in the Southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky region.
“Our goal is to get this under control,” Ingram said in a statement. “We know that state-wide, 65 percent of these cases require hospitalization. If we act early and provide vaccination to at-risk populations, we can keep hepatitis A from causing more severe damage and prevent costly hospitalizations.”
As of July 30, Ohio has reported 176 cases of hepatitis A: Cincinnati has had 10 cases, and areas in Hamilton County outside of Cincinnati have had six cases, officials said.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver transmitted person-to-person or by consuming contaminated food or water. It can be spread by having close contact with an infected person, such as having sex with an infected person or caring for someone who is infected. The virus can be prevented with a vaccine.
Symptoms include fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, and jaundice that can last up to two months.
Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil said it’s important for jail and health officials to control the spread of hepatitis A to avoid complications and costs for hospitalizations.