Hepatitis A outbreak has local health officials urging vaccination for high risk groups

Nearly 500 new cases of Hepatitis A have been reported since August of last year, according to Dr. Gary Johnson, medical director of the Genesee County Health Department.

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver caused by the Hepatitis A virus. It can make the infected person very sick.

"It can be very serious. You can be hospitalized and you can even die from it," said Dr. Johnson.

The virus is spread a variety of ways. Including coming in contact with fecal matter and not properly washing your hands. Fecal-oral, through water, unprotected sex with someone who has Hepatitis A, and drug use are other ways Johnson says the virus can be spread.

Symptoms may not show up right away, it may take up to 50 days after exposure. Symptoms include: feeling bad, diarrhea, abdominal pain, swelling, dark urine and yellowness of the eyes known as jaundice.

Dr. Johnson says there is no need to worry. But people should be vigilant and get vaccinated if you are in a high risk group.

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