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News From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
December 25, 2018

Shifting Hepatitis A Epidemiology

JAMA. 2018;320(24):2522. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.19604

Large outbreaks of acute hepatitis A in California, Kentucky, Michigan, and Utah that predominantly affected individuals who were homeless or reported using drugs signal a shift in the epidemiology of US hepatitis A outbreaks, according to a CDC report.

Public health authorities in the affected states reported 1521 cases of acute hepatitis A to the CDC in December 2017. Among those infected, 71% were hospitalized and 41 died. Investigators found that 57% of those affected during these outbreaks were homeless, reported drug use, or both and that person-to-person transmission was likely the driving factor in these outbreaks. By contrast, the CDC authors note that most large US hepatitis A outbreaks are associated with consuming contaminated commercially prepared foods.