GREENE COUNTY, Mo.– Greene County usually sees about one case of hepatitis A each year, but there have already been 77 confirmed cases of the disease in 2019.
“This is a big deal for Greene County, 77 cases is a lot and that’s a lot of cases of the disease in our population,” said Kendra Findley.
Kendra Findley works for the Greene County Health Department. She says Missouri is just one of 30 states who are experiencing an outbreak of hepatitis A.
“Hepatitis A is passed from person to person, what it really comes down to is dirty hands, is just not washing your hands after you have gone to the bathroom,” said Findley.
Findley says the disease can spread quickly, with symptoms including fatigue, vomiting, stomach pain, darkening of your urine and jaundice of the eyes.
“The cases we are seeing here in Greene County have been hospitalized, so the symptoms can be pretty serious,” said Findley.
She says those who use drugs such as heroin or meth along with people experiencing homelessness are at high risk for contracting the disease.
“Several of our people have been identified and have been treated and have gone for that condition,” said Christie Love.
Christie Love is the pastor at the Connecting Grounds on Commercial Street. She works closely with the homeless community. She says they have been working with the health department for vaccinations.
“We have been able to vaccinate over a 100 people in the last few months just to try to prevent that epidemic from growing any larger in this community,” said Love.
But, even if you do not fall into these categories, Findley says you should get vaccinated.
“You really are vulnerable in Greene county because we have 77 cases meaning it is within the community meaning it can touch you at any time,” said Love.
Doctors recommend washing your hands with soap and water for at least 30 seconds or more to help flush off any bacteria on your hands as well as getting the hepatitis A vaccination to further the spread of the disease.