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Inmates offered free vaccinations after one case of hepatitis A discovered at Sullivan jail

STAFF REPORT • Nov 21, 2018 at 6:33 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — A Sullivan County Jail inmate on Wednesday was diagnosed with hepatitis A, which authorities say has been contained, and inmates are being offered free vaccinations.

According to a joint press release issued by the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office and the Sullivan County Regional Health Department, there was only one case, and infection control measures including isolating the inmate have been implemented.

The SCRHD, in conjunction with the Tennessee Department of Health, is following Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for hepatitis A infection control.

A hepatitis A vaccination campaign was initiated Wednesday evening to prevent further infection. Vaccines will be offered free to all inmates and SCSO staff members.

What is Hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with a virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months.

How is it spread?

Hepatitis A is usually spread when a person ingests fecal matter, even in very small amounts.

This type of exposure to the hepatitis A virus can occur by having contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by the feces or stool of an infected person who does not thoroughly wash his or her hands.

It is also spread through sexual contact or touching contaminated objects and then touching the mouth.

Hepatitis A can be prevented with a vaccine and by thorough hand washing using soap and water (sanitizers might not be effective).

What are the symptoms?

Signs and symptoms of hepatitis A usually appear 2-4 weeks after exposure and can include the following: fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movement, joint pain and jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

Children under 6 with Hepatitis A often do not have or show few signs and symptoms of exposure.

The following link will also provide some information from the Tennessee Department of Health.

https://www.tn.gov/health/cedep/tennessee-hepatitis-a-outbreak.html

Inmates with no symptoms who were incarcerated and released between Nov. 5 and Wednesday may receive a free vaccine by calling the SCRHD on Monday at (423) 279-2777 to schedule an appointment.

Inmates who were incarcerated and released during that time period and are experiencing symptoms should make an appointment with their primary care physician or visit their local emergency room for evaluation.

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