Hepatitis A Outbreaks
Shawnee County Person-to-Person Outbreak
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and the Shawnee County Health Department (SCHD) have been working together in response to a person-to-person hepatitis A outbreak. See the data dashboard for complete details.
Those impacted have reported experiencing homelessness, unstable housing, injection or non-injection drug use, occupational risk of exposure, or close contact to an infected person. This outbreak is not spreading because of contaminated foods, drinks, or infected food handlers; however, KDHE and SCHD will continue to monitor the potential for the spread of disease by contaminated foods and drinks.
KDHE, SCHD, and community partners have been providing vaccination outreach efforts to those at risk of hepatitis A. Clinicians and vaccinators should consider the following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations when prescribing and administering hepatitis A vaccine.
Who Should Get Vaccinated to Help Control the Outbreak?
- People who use injection or non-injection drugs
- People experiencing unstable housing or homelessness
- People currently or recently in prison
- People at increased risk of severe disease from infection, such as those with chronic liver disease or viral hepatitis infection
- People who provide care for individuals experiencing homelessness, drug use, or the elderly
- Any unvaccinated person that requests vaccination
Shawnee County Health Department
2115 SW 10th Avenue, Topeka
Call 785-251-5700 to schedule an appointment. Walk-ins accepted.
Find immunization hours on the Shawnee County Health Department website.
Resources for Health Care Providers
Reporting & Technical Assistance
- The Kansas Immunization Program can supply a limited amount of hepatitis A vaccine to providers to vaccinate at risk persons in response to this outbreak. If interested, call 877-296-0464 or email the team.
- The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends hepatitis A vaccination for children aged 12-23 months, unvaccinated children and adolescents aged 2-18 years, persons at an increased risk of infection or severe disease, pregnant women at risk for infection or severe disease, or any person who requests vaccination.
- One dose of single-antigen hepatitis A vaccine has been shown to control outbreaks of hepatitis A and it provides up to 95% seroprotection in healthy adults for at least 10 years.
- Vaccination should be administered even if the timing of the second dose cannot be ensured.
- Vaccinations should not be postponed if vaccination history cannot be obtained or records are unavailable.
- Pre-vaccination and post-vaccination serologic testing is not required to administer hepatitis A vaccine.
- Test patients for IgM anti-HAV if they report signs or symptoms of hepatitis A infection.
- Asymptomatic patients with elevated liver enzymes, including total bilirubin ≥3.0 mg/dL or serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) >200 IU/L, should be considered for IgM anti-HAV testing.
Post Exposure Prophylaxis Guidance
- Post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) with hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin (IG) prevents infection with hepatitis A virus when administered within two weeks of exposure.
- Vaccine should be administered to any unvaccinated person aged 12 months and older within 2 weeks of HAV exposure. In addition, IG may be administered to persons 40 years or older, depending on the provider's risk assessment.
- Refer to CDC dosage and recommendations for additional details on dosage and IG guidance.
Patient Education Resources
Explore the CDC's patient education materials.
What is Hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A, also known as Hep A, is a contagious liver infection caused by a virus that can be transmitted through contaminated food or water, or by close person-to-person contact with an infected person. The infection can range from mild symptoms that last a few weeks to serious illness that can last months.
Those at increased risk for infection include international travelers, men who have sex with men, persons who are homeless or experiencing unstable housing, persons using injection or non-injection drugs, and persons who have an occupational risk of exposure. These groups are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated.
- Practice good hand hygiene, including thoroughly washing your hands after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and before preparing or eating food.
- Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent hepatitis A. The vaccine series consists of two shots given six months apart. Share any questions and concerns about vaccination with your doctor.
Symptoms & Severity
Symptoms of hepatitis A include loss of appetite, chronic upset stomach or stomachache, vomiting, fever, dark urine or light-colored stool, chronic diarrhea, and jaundice, with yellowing of the eyes or skin. Talk to your health care provider about any symptoms you may be experiencing and ask if you should be tested.
While death from hepatitis A is very rare, it can occur in individuals with severely compromised immune systems, those who are older, or those who have a co-existing hepatitis B or hepatitis C infection. Learn more.