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HEALTH DEPT. URGES VACCINATION FOR HEPATITIS A IN BLAIR COUNTY

 HEALTH DEPT. URGES VACCINATION FOR HEPATITIS A IN BLAIR COUNTY
 HARRISBURG, Pa., Dec. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Prompted by a dramatic increase this year in the number of cases of hepatitis A in Blair County, the state Health Department is urging persons exposed to the disease to obtain injections of immune globulin, a vaccine that offers protection from the disease.
 "In Blair County last year there were three cases of hepatitis A reported to the department, compared with 41 cases this year -- 27 in Altoona," said department district medical director Dr. David Schooley. "This marks a significant increase and one of concern to the department."
 Hepatitis A is a virus that inflames the liver and can cause fever, nausea and diarrhea lasting one to two weeks. Death is rare, but the disease can be life-threatening for older persons and the chronically ill.
 Because of the increase in cases, Schooley recommends that persons exposed to hepatitis A during the past two weeks contact their family physician to receive injections of immune globulin.
 Individuals should seek the injections if they:
 -- Had close contact with a person known to have hepatitis A.
 -- Are day care center children and staff who have been exposed to the disease. Family members of day care children in diapers should receive the injections if a case arises in the day care center.
 -- Are food handlers of a food service establishment employing a food handler with hepatitis A.
 -- Have consumed food or beverage prepared or served by a person known to have hepatitis A.
 -- Were exposed to cases in institutional settings.
 Schooley said immune globulin injections are not necessary under the usual office, factory or school relationships with co-workers or fellow students with hepatitis A.
 "The injections also are not recommended if the period since last exposure to an infectious person exceeds 14 days," Schooley said. "A case usually is considered to be contagious in the two weeks prior to the onset of jaundice and for a week after that."
 The Health Department has advised Blair County physicians of the increased outbreak of hepatitis A and that the department has made an ample supply of the vaccine available through the State Health Center in Altoona, Pa.
 Physicians should contact the State Health Center at 814-946-7300 to arrange for their patients to receive the free injections.
 The Department of Environmental Resources and the City of Altoona Health Office have contacted all Blair County restaurant owners, managers and food handlers and urged them to review basic sanitation rules to control the spread of the disease.
 -0- 12/17/91
 /CONTACT: Bruce Reimer or Bob Fisher of Commonwealth News Bureau, 717-787-1783/ CO: Health Department ST: Pennsylvania IN: HEA SU:


CD -- PG004 -- 3017 12/17/91 14:23 EST
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Date:Dec 17, 1991
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