Public Health Vaccinating High-Risk People to Prevent Hepatitis Outbreak
Friday, January 4, 2019, Pueblo, CO-The Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment announced clinics beginning in January to vaccinate and educate to prevent the spread of hepatitis A among high risk populations of people experiencing homelessness and/or substance use issues. Public Health determined a hepatitis A case in Pueblo is linked to an outbreak in El Paso County.
“Public Health partners are vaccinating and educating to help prevent an outbreak of hepatitis A among people who are at higher risk,” stated Zak VanOoyen, program manager at the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment. VanOoyen added, “The number one way to prevent hepatitis A is with a vaccine that is safe and highly effective. Clinics will be held beginning in January for people experiencing homelessness and/or substance use issues.”
Hepatitis A is a virus that can make a person ill and damage the liver. Colorado usually has two cases of hepatitis A each month, which is considered “normal” but cases are increasing.
The virus is found in the feces (poop) of infected people. A person can get hepatitis A
- By consuming food or drinks contaminated with the virus
- By sharing drugs or drug works
- Through oral or anal sex
Hepatitis A can be more severe for people who have a lifelong liver disease, such as cirrhosis, hepatitis B or hepatitis C.
To prevent outbreaks, Public Health is focusing on vaccinating and educating:
- People who are transient or experiencing homelessness.
- People experiencing substance use issues, such as those who inject heroin and methamphetamine.
- People who live with, have close contact with, or have sex with someone who has hepatitis A.
Children are routinely vaccinated against hepatitis A although it is not required for daycare or school. Many adults have not been vaccinated because the vaccine was not available until the mid-1990’s. The general public may contact their medical provider or the health department to receive a hepatitis A vaccine.
For more information about hepatitis A visit cdc.gov or call the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment 719-583-4307.
Sarah Joseph, MPA | Public Information Officer
Pueblo Department of Public Health & Environment
(formerly Pueblo City-County Health Department)
o 719 583 4526 c 719 671 1341
101 W 9th Street| Pueblo CO 81003 | 719 583 4300 | pueblohealth.org