The Virginia Department of Health has recently identified a cluster of hepatitis A (HAV) infections in the central region of Virginia, especially in the metro Richmond area. Cases are predominantly occurring among the MSM (men who have sex with men) population.
Hepatitis A is an acute viral infection that affects the liver. The virus is spread through the fecal-oral route and causes symptoms such as fatigue, poor appetite, fever, and nausea. Often, people with hepatitis A infection may experience jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes) and dark urine and/or clay-colored stools. Hepatitis A can be a serious illness and individuals who may be ill should contact their healthcare provider.
Hepatitis A infection can be prevented by receipt of two doses of the hepatitis A vaccine. As the virus is spread through the fecal-oral route, proper hand hygiene and reduction of exposure to others with active hepatitis A infection is essential. For more information on vaccination, please contact your healthcare provider or local health department.
Clinicians should maintain a high index of suspicion for hepatitis A in cases that present with signs or symptoms of the disease, particularly in patients who identify as MSM. Please report all suspect cases to your local health department as soon as possible.