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Doctors encourage people to get hepatitis A vaccination after multi-state outbreak

Earlier this week, Local 24 News told you about an increase in hepatitis A cases across Tennessee.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – Earlierthis week, Local 24 News told you about an increase in hepatitis A cases acrossTennessee.

Nearly 2,000 people in Tennessee have beeninfected in a multi-state outbreak that began early last year. Hepatitis A canbe prevented with a simple and effective vaccine.

Shelby County health officials say there are 27cases, but fortunately no deaths. The majority of the cases are in MiddleTennessee. Officials want you to get vaccinated and you can get it done forfree.

“It’s not hugely alarming, but it is moreoften than we’re used to seeing,” said Dr. Muhammad Khurshid, InfectiousDisease Specialist from St. Francis Hospital.

Dr. Khurshid is encouraging people to go aheadand get vaccinated.

“It is contracted from person to person,so hand hygiene, hygiene after using bathroom and before eating a meal is veryimportant,” Dr. Khurshid explained.

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease thatcan be spread when the virus enters the mouth after someone touches an object,food or drink that is contaminated. The virus has been concentrated amongcertain vulnerable populations, like the homeless, recreational drug users, orthose who are incarcerated.

“So many other diseases are popping up too,so it just seems like everything that use to be minor has become major,”said Memphian Gladis Willingham.

The most recent case is an employee of LosEncinos Mexican Grill of Calhoun City, Mississippi, which is about two hours southof Memphis. Symptoms for hepatitis A include fatigue, nausea, diarrhea,vomiting, stomach upset symptoms, or yellowing of the eyes.

“It doesn’t take that much time to getvaccinated, I know it seems like a big ordeal especially when you have littlekids, but if you just put on your calendar, take an hour to go do it. It’sreally worth it,” said Catherine Donavan, who recently got her kidsvaccinated.

Doctors say most of the time, hepatitis Aresolves by itself within two weeks. However, it’s always good to protectyourself with a vaccination.

The Health Department is offering freehepatitis A vaccinations to populations who are especially at-risk. Anyone whobelieves they may be at risk may receive a free hepatitis A vaccination at anyof the following public health clinics, without an appointment, Monday-Friday,between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. The locations are below.

Cawthon Public Health Clinic, 1000 Haynes, 38114

Collierville Public Health Clinic (Tuesday and Thursday, 9:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.), 167 Washington St., 38017

Hickory Hill Public Health Clinic, 6590 Kirby Center Cove, 38118

Immunization Clinic, 814 Jefferson, Rm. 216, 38105

Millington Public Health Clinic, 8225 Highway 51 North, 38053

Packer Clinic, 814 Jefferson, Room 221, 38105

Shelby Crossing Public Health Clinic, 6170 Macon Road, 38133

Southland Mall Public Health Clinic, 1287 Southland Mall, 38116

Hepatitis A vaccinations may also be obtainedat primary care providers.