Hepatitis B cases increase in Harrison County

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (AP) — Seventeen acute Hepatitis B cases have been reported this year in Harrison County, which typically sees two to three cases annually.

Intravenous drug use is a factor in the increase, County Nursing Director Margaret Howe said during a recent meeting of the Harrison-Clarksburg Health Department, The Exponent Telegram (http://bit.ly/1a4HpVo) reported.

State figures show Harrison County’s rate of acute hepatitis B was 16 cases per 100,000 residents in 2012. State Office of Epidemiology and Prevention Services spokesman Toby Wagoner said that the state average in 2012 was six to seven cases per 100,000 population.

Harrison County’s hepatitis B rate was one to four cases per population prior to 2012, Wagoner said.

The county health department has received a grant through the state health department to distribute hepatitis B vaccines to at-risk adults.

“We were involved a few years back, but because of the numbers of cases this year, we will be involved again,” Howe said.

Hepatitis B is a blood disease and can be transmitted through sharing bodily fluids and blood such as in sex, sharing needles, and exposures on the job. The disease can also be transmitted from mother to child.

Howe said hepatitis B can lead to liver failure and death if combined with an auto immune deficiency.

“It’s important to remember a hepatitis B infection is preventable with vaccination. We encourage residents to talk with their doctor or local health department to see if they are at increased risk for hepatitis B and to be vaccinated if not already,” Wagoner said.

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Information from: The Exponent Telegram, http://www.cpubco.com

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