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Florence County inmates offered Hepatitis A vaccine

Florence, Wis. — In order to prevent Hepatitis A outbreaks in jails, the Florence County Health Department, in coordination with Wisconsin Department of Health Services, is offering the Hepatitis A vaccine for free to eligible inmates.

The Health Department partnered with the Florence County Sheriff’s Office and Corrections to begin administering the vaccines this month.

Hepatitis A is a serious liver disease. It is transmitted fecal-orally and is acquired by person-to-person contact. It can also be acquired by ingesting contaminated food or water, which can happen when someone doesn’t wash their hands after using a restroom.

Symptoms of Hepatitis A include: fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, joint pain, stomach pains in children and jaundice. The symptoms usually last for less than two months and may make an individual too ill to work.

In extreme cases, Hepatitis A can cause liver failure and even death. However, the Hepatitis A vaccine is 80% to 100% effective in preventing infection. These vaccines started being recommended in 1996. Since then, the number of cases has dropped from 31,000 to fewer than 1,500 cases annually in the United States.

Individuals who are susceptible to Hepatitis A include: People who travel to countries with high rates of Hepatitis A, men who have sex with other men, users of illicit injection or non-injection drugs, people who are close personal contacts of Hepatitis A-infected people, and people who are homeless or in transient housing. Inmates, being in close living quarters, are more susceptible to contracting Hepatitis A.

For more information, contact the Florence County Health Department at 715-528-4837, in the courthouse at 501 Lake Ave. or go to the website at http://www.florencecountywi.com/

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