The Spokane Regional Health District has confirmed 47 cases of hepatitis A in Spokane County, an increase from nine confirmed cases in August.
The outbreak is disproportionately impacting people who are living homeless or using drugs, a release from the health district said.
Community partners, including House of Charity, Rite Aid, Salvation Army and Union Gospel Mission, have partnered with the health district to offer vaccinations throughout the county. So far, more than 1,335 vaccines have been administered.
Seventy-two percent of the hepatitis A cases in the county have required hospitalization. Hepatitis can have a range of symptoms and health impacts, depending on the other conditions a person with the virus might have. The virus is transmitted after coming into contact with contaminated objects, food or drink. Lack of handwashing and sanitary environments can lead to a spread of the virus.
District health officer Bob Lutz said the increase in cases is not unexpected.
“Once contracted, the hepatitis A virus has an incubation period that could have begun before a vaccine was administered,” Lutz said in a press release. “As we work diligently to ensure those at risk receive the vaccine, the number of cases will decrease. Our prompt attention has kept the virus from spreading even further.”
The vaccine is administered in two doses, and it is almost 100% effective after two doses.
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.