NEW JERSEY – Six people have died as a result of a hepatitis A outbreak in New Jersey, according to officials from the NJ Department of Health (NJDOH).
Officials are warning residents against the outbreak, noting that 500 cases have been reported and 308 people have been hospitalized throughout 21 NJ counties, including Ocean and Monmouth Counties.
Ocean County has seen 14 reported cases of hepatitis A, along with eight cases reported in Monmouth County.
According to the NJDOH, a recent confirmed case of hepatitis A was found in Paterson, NJ involving a food handler at Brother’s Produce who worked while he or she was potentially infectious between Sept. 30 and Oct. 5.
Officials are noting that this outbreak demonstrates a sizable increase over last year: 500 cases reported since December as opposed to 64 reported the previous year during the same period.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver caused by a virus.
“Hepatitis A is mainly spread via close person to person contact or via contaminated food,” stated the NJDOH.
This can happen when infected people do not wash their hands properly after using the bathroom and then touch food or items that are shared with others. Hepatitis A can also spread from close personal contact with an infected person, such as through sex or caring for someone who is ill, according to the NJDOH.
Symptoms include fever, feeling tired, poor appetite, dark yellow urine, stomach pain, diarrhea, vomiting, yellow skin or eyes. Symptoms usually appear within 3 to 4 weeks after infection.
For more information, visit nj.gov/health/cd/topics/hepatitisa.shtml.