Health officials declare Hepatitis A outbreak in Minnesota

13 people have been hospitalized as a result.
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An outbreak of Hepatitis A has been declared in Minnesota, after multiple cases of the viral infection have been reported in several counties.

The outbreak is impacting those who use street drugs – both injection and non-injection – as well as those experiencing homelessness, and the recently incarcerated.

There have been 23 confirmed cases across 9 counties, of which 13 have resulted in hospitalization. All of those hospitalized have since been discharged.

Here's where the cases have been found: 

5 cases – Pine County

3 cases – Hennepin, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, St. Louis, Washington counties.

1 case – Dakota and Kandiyohi counties.

"While initial cases were clustered in east-central Minnesota and had links to each other, more recent cases occurred in counties in other parts of the state," the Minnesota Department of Health said.

"The infection source is not known for some cases, suggesting some community transmission among those in high-risk groups."

The increase in Hep-A cases was first noticed in May, with health officials saying they had similar hallmarks of a national outbreak of the virus that's been happening since 2016.

While Minnesota has been relatively unaffected by the national outbreak, 29 states have seen 23,600 cases between them since that year.

"We have been working with our public health partners to respond to individual cases and prevent future cases," said Kris Ehresmann, infectious disease director for MDH. 

"Declaring an outbreak is a significant step because it allows us to access additional resources to fight the outbreak."

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Hepatitis A, a contagious liver infection, is potentially fatal in some people, while others can suffer only a mild bout of illness.

Anyone who is not vaccinated is at risk of getting it, with those homeless or using drugs at higher risk, particularly if they don't have access to sanitation and restroom facilities.

Vaccination for Hep-A is recommended for children at 1 year old.

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