Health & Medicine

The Treasure Valley hepatitis A outbreak is growing. Are you vaccinated?

Public health officials say the hepatitis A outbreak in southern Idaho is continuing to grow, with 34 cases reported so far this year.

Last year, just eight infections were reported in the region.

Nine cases have been reported in Canyon and Owyhee counties, according to an advisory sent out Thursday to health care providers by the Southwest District Health Department. Another 21 cases have been reported in Ada and Elmore counties, the advisory said. The rest were in south-central and eastern Idaho.

Public health officials say getting a vaccine is the best way to prevent infection with the virus. They recommend vaccinations for children, adults and especially adults in high-risk groups, which the advisory identified as:

  • People who are homeless or have unstable housing.
  • People who use street drugs (needle or not).
  • Men who have sex with men.
  • People with chronic liver disease.
  • International travelers.

Treasure Valley public health departments offer the hep A vaccine — and will give it free to people in high-risk groups. You may also be eligible to get the immunization for free if you don’t have health insurance or your insurance doesn’t cover it.

Call (208) 455-5345 in the Canyon County area or (208) 327-7400 in the Ada County area to make an appointment.

There is an ongoing hepatitis A outbreak across many states, mostly affecting IV drug users and homeless individuals. More than 22,000 cases and more than 200 deaths related to hepatitis A have been reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this year.

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