ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – On Friday, the New Mexico Department of Health confirmed there are two cases of hepatitis A infection in Rio Arriba County that are related to the ongoing Bernalillo County outbreak that was first announced last November.
The department reports that there have been 145 acute hepatitis A virus infections with two associated deaths in adults between the ages of 19 and 73-years-old. Of the total 145 cases, 137 of them were identified in Bernalillo County, six in Santa Fe County, and now the two in Rio Arriba County.
The Department of Health states that the outbreak primarily impacts individuals who use injection or non-injection drugs as well as those experiencing homelessness. Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that occurs following an infection with the hepatitis A virus.
The disease ranges in severity and can occur as a mild illness lasting weeks or a severe illness that can last months. It is spread when an individual ingests fecal matter, which can occur as microscopic amounts that come in contact with food, drinks, or other objects.
Hepatitis A is associated with poor hygiene and sanitation and is often transmitted through close contact with an infected individual or through the sharing of contaminated food.
Symptoms of hepatitis A include loss of appetite, nausea, dark urine, vomiting, fever, and the yellowing of the skin and eyes. Individuals at risk for the disease may obtain a vaccine from their healthcare provider.
NMDOH states that washing your hands with soap and water after using the bathroom and before cooking helps to prevent the spread of the virus. The department has provided over 5,700 hepatitis A vaccinations to at-risk populations across the state.