Liver disease awareness month
Contact Keri Zaleski
815-334-4456; cell 815-236-3238
WOODSTOCK IL –McHenry County Department of Health (MCDH) wants you to know that October is Liver Disease Awareness Month. Although many diseases can affect your liver, the hepatitis viruses are among the most well-known. Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. When the liver is inflamed or damaged, its function can be affected. In the United States, the most common hepatitis viruses are hepatitis A virus, hepatitis B virus, and hepatitis C virus.
“Liver Disease Awareness Month is a good time to talk about hepatitis A.”, said Susan Karras, R.N., Director of Nursing for MCDH. “Although we haven’t experienced an outbreak of cases in Illinois, three of the surrounding states and several other mid-west states are experiencing an outbreak of hepatitis A.in high risk populations, the homeless and people who use drugs” Hepatitis A is a highly contagious viral liver infection that spreads when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food, or drinks contaminated by stool from an infected person. Hepatitis A is also spread from close personal contact with an infected person such as drug use, through sex or caring for someone who is ill. The disease ranges from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. Symptoms usually appear abruptly. Some of the more common symptoms include fever, fatigue, abdominal pain, dark urine, diarrhea or clay-colored stools, joint pain or jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes).
The best way to prevent hepatitis A is through vaccination with the hepatitis A vaccine. The McHenry County Department of Health offers the hepatitis A vaccine at their clinics. Medicaid is accepted and sliding scale fee is offered. Currently, through an initiative with IDPH, high risk populations can receive the hepatitis A vaccine at no cost. Those that qualify are;
People without a home
Men who have sex with men
Persons who are or recently incarcerated
Persons who have ongoing close contact with any of the above mentioned risk groups, such as, employees of corrections facility, homeless shelter, and household contacts
Persons with chronic liver disease
Persons who are identified as having contact with a confirmed case of hepatitis A
If you are interested in receiving the hepatitis A vaccine and/or you think you have been exposed contact your Healthcare Provider or the Health Department at 815-334-4500. More information about hepatitis A is available at www.cdc.gov/hepatitis