Shelby County Health Department investigating four cases of hepatitis A

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Shelby County Health Department is investigating four confirmed cases of hepatitis A.

The agency is currently in the process of reaching out to the people who may have come into contact with those individuals to offer them a vaccine. If vaccinated within two weeks, it's very unlikely those exposed will get the disease.

Hepatitis A is a disease which is most often spread through contaminated food and water, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. It can also be contradicted through fecal matter.

Dr. Helen Morrow with the Shelby County Health Department described the disease as a "viral infection of the liver."

Symptoms include fatigue, stomach pain, nausea and jaundice. It can be prevented by getting a vaccine.

We've recently heard of hepatitis A outbreaks in neighboring states. Possible exposures were reported at restaurants, but Dr. Morrow says that's not the case in Shelby County.

She couldn't give specifics but said, "The risk factors that have been seen in this outbreak throughout the country are homeless people that are incarcerated and people that use recreational drugs."

Dr. Morrow says there's been an outbreak going on for several years starting in California and moving to multiple states.

"We've been lucky that we have avoided it for as long as we have."

Hepatitis A is part of the childhood immunization schedule. If vaccinated within 14 days of exposure the Health Department says those exposed are unlikely to develop the disease.

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