BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Vermont is in the early stages of a hepatitis outbreak.
The Vermont Department of Health says there were 12 reported cases of hepatitis A and nine cases of hepatitis B in 2019.
The health commissioner, Dr. Mark Levine, says it is worrisome because the average in recent years was only three cases per year.
Levine says that most cases are in the southern part of Vermont because the other states on the border are experiencing more outbreaks.
He says that hepatitis A is transmitted by manual and oral contact. Hepatitis B is transmitted through blood and needles. Levine says that hepatitis A can make him sicker, but B can leave him with more chronic symptoms. He says that viruses can live in his body for up to a month before he realizes he has them.
Levine encourages people to get vaccinated, especially because there is no specific treatment.
“In general, it is supportive care. Therefore, when you get seriously ill, as with hepatitis A, there really isn’t a medication that treats the underlying infection. It’s more to make sure you stay hydrated and get all the supportive care you need. ” Levine explained.
According to Levine, the vaccine is approximately 95% effective. The CDC recommends that all children ages 2 to 18 get vaccinated.
The commissioner also says that people who have used drugs, are homeless or in prison have a higher risk of becoming infected.