By Bonita Wilborn

Due to recent cases of hepatitis A that have turned up in DeKalb County, the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) is expanding its efforts to get as many people as possible vaccinated, to prevent continued spreading of the virus.
While the amount of people who have the virus is low, medical teams are taking a proactive stance. It’s time to educate the public on the virus and determine the best methods of prevention.
According to ADPH hepatitis A can spread easily among unvaccinated persons if good hand-washing practices are not observed. ADPH emphasizes that individuals who may be experiencing homelessness, using recreational drugs, sharing drugs or drug paraphernalia, having spent time in jail or prison, or men with same sex partners need to be vaccinated against hepatitis A.
The symptoms of hepatitis A are vague and difficult to diagnose correctly. While often confused with common cold symptoms, hepatitis A symptoms may not appear until 15 to 50 days after it was contracted. Symptoms may include fever, headache, fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, dark urine, or jaundice. If persons are experiencing any of these symptoms, they contact should their healthcare provider and take steps to prevent spreading illness.
To reduce the risk of hepatitis A, get vaccinated, practice good hygiene by washing your hands while cooking and before and after eating, and (even though as a child we were taught to share) do not share food, drinks, eating utensils, cigarettes, towels, toothbrushes, or drug paraphernalia.