Increase in Hepatitis A cases reported in Muskoka, health unit investigating

An increase in Hepatitis A cases has been reported in Muskoka from north of Gravenhurst to Huntsville.

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit is investigating to identify any potential common exposures or risk factors.

“There are currently 12 cases of Hepatitis A that have been reported since October 2019,” the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s associate medical officer of health, Colin Lee, said in a statement.

“Typically, in Simcoe Muskoka, we have between zero and six cases of Hepatitis A virus reported each year. Therefore, it is important that the public is aware of this increase and monitoring for symptoms.”

Simcoe Muskoka health officials say the best way to prevent Hepatitis A is through a vaccine, which is free for people who are at higher risk of contracting the virus, including people who inject drugs and those with chronic liver disease.

According to the health unit, some private health-care plans cover the cost of the vaccine.

Hepatitis A is found in infected people’s stool. Those who are infected can spread the virus by not washing their hands well enough after using the restroom or by diapering children and then touching food, drinks, surfaces and objects with which others may come in contact.

Hepatitis A symptoms may include a fever, nausea, loss of appetite and abdominal discomfort followed by jaundice. Small children usually have mild or no symptoms, and symptoms usually develop about four weeks after exposure to the virus, although it can range from 15 to 50 days.

According to the Simcoe Muskoka health unit, there is no specific treatment for Hepatitis A, and those infected generally recover at home.

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