The hepatitis A toll in Georgia now exceeds 300 cases, including one death, according to state public health officials. Of the 312 Georgia residents... More than 300 have been affected by hepatitis A outbreak in Georgia

The hepatitis A toll in Georgia now exceeds 300 cases, including one death, according to state public health officials.

Of the 312 Georgia residents diagnosed with hepatitis A since June 2018, two-thirds were hospitalized. Almost half the cases are linked to illicit drug use, the state’s Department of Public Health said Tuesday.

The highly contagious liver infection has hit the northwest Georgia and Augusta areas especially hard.

Georgia also has seen a high number of E. coli infections. These cases have now reached 49, up from a total of 27 a month ago. The E. coli problem has been linked to contaminated ground beef, including from one source in Georgia.

State officials say E. coli is leveling off here, though they expect the number of confirmed cases to continue to rise as a result of lag time in reporting and testing.

Hepatitis A can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months.

Symptoms of hepatitis A can include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, fever, diarrhea and headache. It is usually transmitted from person to person through the fecal-oral route or consumption of contaminated food or water.

Public Health has focused its hepatitis A prevention efforts on targeting drug users, the homeless, and men who have sex with men, saying people in these categories account for a large number of the infections. Health officials said Tuesday that they have administered 2,800 vaccinations so far.

Of the E. coli infections in the state, all have occurred in metro Atlanta and northwest Georgia. Six patients have been hospitalized.

Nationally, the E.coli outbreak has sickened 196 people in 10 states. But since April 19, only 19 new cases of E. coli infections have been reported, the CDC said Monday.

Some tainted ground beef was traced to Carrollton-based K2D Foods, a company doing business as Colorado Premium Foods. The company issued a recall of 100,000 pounds of raw ground beef products sold to restaurants and institutions. Another meat company in Illinois also recalled 50,000 pounds of raw ground beef due to possible contamination.

Some kinds of E. coli can cause diarrhea, while others cause urinary tract infections, respiratory illness and pneumonia, or other illnesses.

To prevent infections, health experts remind people to wash their hands after using the restroom or changing diapers, before and after preparing or eating food, and after contact with animals.

Georgia health officials also said Tuesday that the number of measles cases here remains at six. Overall, 839 cases of measles have been confirmed in 23 states.


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Andy Miller

Andy Miller is editor and CEO of Georgia Health News

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