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Number of Nashville Hepatitus A cases continues to grow



NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  The Metro Nashville Department of Health says it may be some time before it can get the city’s Hepatitis A outbreak under control.

Hepatitus A is a viral illness that effects the liver and can be deadly. A vaccine can prevent the illnesses if it’s administered before the virus is contracted.

The department says Nashville’s first Hep A cases were detected last December and an outbreak was declared in May. More than 150 cases have been reported to date.

Health Department spokesman Brian Todd says the number of Hepatitis A patients in Metro continues to increase. He says the experience of other cities around the country suggests it may be a while before the outbreak is under control.

“To give you an idea, San Diego just recently ended their outbreak and that was after a two year(s) and several hundred people with Hepatitis A.”

The city Department of Health is working the outbreak aggressively. It’s reaching out to three groups considered most at risk: the homeless population, drug users, and men who have sex with other men.

Just one example: department staffers are visiting events and venues frequented by Nashville’s gay community to provide Hep A information and to offer free vaccination.

“We’re actually in the bar or other location, you know, at ten o’clock at night till one in the morning. So we’re trying to reach them where they’re going to be and make it as easy as we can for them.”

Free vaccinations for the three at risk groups are being offered at the Health Department's Lentz, Woodbine and East clinics.