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Berry Hepatitis A Outbreak Highlights Importance of Vaccination

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BerriesA berry hepatitis A outbreak hit the news earlier this week, sparking a conversation of the importance of the hepatitis A vaccine. Health agencies warn that The Townsend Farms’ Organic Anti-oxidant Blend Frozen Berry Mix is linked to a recent hepatitis A outbreak that continues to sicken over 45 people in at least five states, reports The Inquisitr. Infections have been reported in Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, and California. More cases continued to be confirmed.

Heptatitis A, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Infection (CDC), is a highly contagious liver disease that results from an infection by the hepatitis A virus. Although most healthy individuals will survive a hepatitis A infection without serious complications, the disease can cause liver failure and death. Symptoms of the illness, which usually appear two to four weeks after infection, include flu-like symptoms, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, dark urine, and jaundice.

Unlike other strains of hepatitis, hepatitis A is usually spread through unsanitary conditions. The disease lives in the fecal matter of infected individuals and is most often spread when an infected person fails to thoroughly wash his or her hands after using the bathroom. Hepatitis A is also spread through contaminated food and water as well as through some sexual contact.

The best way to prevent the spread of hepatitis A is through vaccination, says the National Institutes of Health. The CDC currently recommends that all children be vaccinated against hepatitis A between 12 and 24 months old. A second booster shot is given approximately six months after the initial injection. The hepatitis A vaccine is also recommended for other individuals who have not already had hepatitis A including people who live or work with individuals infected with the illness, health care professionals, and anyone planning to travel to a region with high rates of the disease.

Additionally, anyone who may have eaten the fruit affected by the berry hepatitis A outbreak are urged to speak with their health care provider about receiving the hepatitis A vaccine.

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Although hepatitis A is usually not life-threatening, severe complications including death can occur as a result of an infection. The illness can also be extremely unpleasant and spreads easily. The only effective way to protect yourself against the disease is to receive the hepatitis A vaccine. As the recent outbreak from contaminated berries shows, a hepatitis A infection can come from the unlikeliest of sources despite clean water and proper hygiene.

Have you vaccinated your children against hepatitis A?

References

Hepatitis A: General Information: http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/A/PDFs/HepAGeneralFactSheet.pdf
Hepatitis A Outbreak Linked To Frozen Berry Mix: http://www.inquisitr.com/683287/hepatitis-a-outbreak-linked-to-frozen-berry-mix/
Hepatitis A Vaccine: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/005107.htm

Image Credits

Berries: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Berries_%28USDA_ARS%29.jpg

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Written by James Johnson

James Johnson is a writer, editor, husband, and father.

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