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Outbreak Among Individuals Who Use Street Drugs in Minnesota

The outbreak is occurring among individuals who use street drugs, are experiencing homelessness or unstable housing or have been lately incarcerated, the state health department mentioned Aug. 8.

The outbreak involves 23 cases in 9 counties. 5 cases have been reported in Pine County in east-central Minnesota. Hennepin, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, St. Louis and Washington counties have every had 3 cases. One case each has been reported in Kandiyohi, Chisago, and Dakota counties.

While the initial cases had been clustered in east-central Minnesota and had links to each other, more recent cases have occurred in different elements of the state, health officials stated. The infection source is not known for some cases, suggesting some group transmission among those in high-risk groups, in accordance with the health department.

Minnesota started seeing a rise in hepatitis A in May. Cases had similar risk components to nationwide outbreaks of hepatitis A that have been occurring since 2016. Nationally there have been greater than 23,600 cases in 29 states.

The Minnesota Department of Health has been monitoring the national trend and has been conducting heightened surveillance of hepatitis A since mid-2018 to help quickly identify cases in Minnesota.

“We’ve been working with our public health partners to answer individual cases and prevent future cases,” mentioned Kris Ehresmann, the state’s infectious illness director. “Declaring an outbreak is a big step as a result of it permits us to access additional resources to fight the outbreak.”

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver an infection attributable to a virus. It can range from a mild infection with no signs lasting a couple of weeks to a severe sickness lasting a number of months that can result in liver failure and death. Early diagnosis and medical care are the keys to preventing more severe health outcomes.

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