Virginia Department of Health warns residents of increase in hepatitis A cases

Virginia Department of HealthMultiple states across the country are experiencing hepatitis A virus (HAV) outbreaks. Since these outbreaks were first identified in 2016, more than 15,000 cases and 8,500 hospitalizations (57% of cases) have been reported in the United States. Virginia has reported a 132% increase in cases of HAV between January 1, 2019 and April 19, 2019 compared to the same time period in 2018. There have been 45 cases reported in Virginia as of April 22, 2019.

HAV is an inflammation of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus. The classic symptom of HAV is jaundice, which is a yellowing of the skin or the eyes. Other symptoms include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, joint pain, dark urine and clay-colored stools. Symptoms develop 15-50 days after exposure to the virus. It is very important for people who have symptoms to stay home from work, especially if they work in food service, health care or child care.

“The increase in HAV cases in Virginia indicates that the Commonwealth is now experiencing the effects of this nationwide outbreak,” said State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, MD, MA. “We want everyone to know how the infection is spread, be able to recognize the symptoms, and take actions to prevent the spread of hepatitis A.”

The virus is spread through direct contact with another person who has the infection or by consuming food or drink that has been contaminated with the virus. The following groups are at highest risk for acquiring HAV infection or developing serious complications from HAV infection in these outbreaks: injection and non-injection drug users; anyone experiencing or who has recently experienced homelessness; men who have sex with men (MSM); and people who are or were recently incarcerated.

The best way to prevent HAV is by getting vaccinated. Hepatitis A vaccine is available at many doctor’s offices, pharmacies and local health departments across the state. Another important method of prevention is frequent handwashing with soap and warm water after, especially after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, or before preparing food.

In Virginia, local health departments, in conjunction with community partners, are working to increase hepatitis A vaccination rates statewide. The efforts specifically focus on individuals who are members of high risk groups such as those who are/have recently been incarcerated, persons who are experiencing/recently experienced homelessness, injection and non-injection drug users, and men who have sex with men (MSM). Although the focus is on those at higher risk for infection, any Virginian who desires hepatitis A vaccine should receive it.

For more information about HAV, visit or see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) update on hepatitis A outbreaks in the United States.

uva basketball team of destiny

Team of Destiny: Inside UVA Basketball's improbable run

Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25.

The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018, and how coach Tony Bennett and his team used that loss as the source of strength, through to the ACC regular-season championship, the run to the Final Four, and the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.


Augusta Free Press content is available for free, as it has been since 2002, save for a disastrous one-month experiment at putting some content behind a pay wall back in 2009. (We won’t ever try that again. Almost killed us!) That said, it’s free to read, but it still costs us money to produce. The site is updated several times a day, every day, 365 days a year, 366 days on the leap year. (Stuff still happens on Christmas Day, is what we’re saying there.) AFP does well in drawing advertisers, but who couldn’t use an additional source of revenue? From time to time, readers ask us how they can support us, and we usually say, keep reading. Now we’re saying, you can drop us a few bucks, if you’re so inclined.