(602) 770-4972 • (928) 203-6744 • (520) 333-6234

24 HOURS A DAY
7 DAYS A WEEK

Central AZ  (602) 770-4972
Northern AZ  (928) 203-6744
Southern AZ (520) 333-6234

Hepatitis A Poses Threat to Homeless Camps

Hepatitis A in Homeless EncampmentsOver the last year, Arizona has experienced a bad outbreak of the Hepatitis A virus. Like many other places throughout the country, the disease has especially affected those who are experiencing homelessness and don’t have good access to sanitary facilities to use the restroom or wash their hands.

What is Hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A AwarenessHepatitis A is a virus that inflames the liver and is highly contagious. Present in the feces of those infected, it can be spread by eating contaminated food and drinking water, through sexual intercourse, and by sharing personal items such as drug paraphernalia.
With a long incubation period of 15-50 days, it takes quite a while for people to realize they are sick – a time when they can spread the disease unknowingly as they are contagious for two weeks before symptoms show and for two weeks afterward. While not everyone who has Hepatitis A shows signs of the disease, most people do and symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Tiredness
  • Abdominal pain, especially in the area of the liver
  • Dark colored urine
  • Loss of appetite
  • Yellowing of the eyes and skin (jaundice)
  • Clay-colored feces

Once symptoms do appear, individuals feel sick for around two months with some people being ill for as long as six months. Once a person recovers from the disease, though, they have developed the antibodies which protect them in the future.

There is no treatment for Hepatitis A – just rest, good nutrition, lots of fluids, and medical monitoring. Out of the 599 cases reported in Arizona in the recent outbreak, 80% of the patients required hospital stays and 8 people died.

How do you prevent it?

The best Hepatitis A prevention is getting vaccinated against the disease and washing your hands thoroughly and often after using the restroom, before eating or preparing food, avoiding sexual intercourse with any infected person, and not sharing personal hygiene products, towels, food, drinks, utensils, cigarettes, or drug paraphernalia with other people.

If you are a member of a population at high risk of contracting Hepatitis A (people who are homeless, users of illicit drugs, or people who have recently been incarcerated) or work with such populations (including childcare workers), vaccination is an important step to take. The more people who are vaccinated against the disease, the better off everyone will be.

Why is it a problem among the homeless?

For those people experiencing homelessness, good sanitation poses a problem. With no sanitary facilities and restrooms in short supply (if they exist at all), it’s hard to wash your hands after going to the restroom and with homeless encampments set up along ditches or sidewalks, contaminated feces can exist in the same area people eat and drink. For those experiencing homelessness and drug use, their risk of contracting Hepatitis A is particularly high due to sharing drug paraphernalia and unsanitary needles.

If a person is at risk for Hepatitis A through being homeless or uses illegal drugs, they should have the vaccine in order to prevent the disease. Not only are homeless people at greater risk of contracting the illness, but cases of Hepatitis A tend to be more severe as well.

What is being done?

Though the Hepatis A Vaccine is now regularly given to children as young as one year of age, that only started here in Arizona in the mid 1990s and anyone older than that has not been given the vaccine as a matter of course. The vaccine consists of two doses being given six months apart and is vital to preventing disease in at-risk populations.

For anyone in the high-risk groups (people who have been recently incarcerated, are homeless, or are using illicit drugs), they can obtain a free vaccination from a local public health clinic. Public health workers have also been working on going out to the camps and where people hang out to vaccinate those at high risk to make it even easier to become vaccinated and prevent future outbreaks.

Unlike Hepatitis types B & C, you do recover from type A. You don’t have it for the rest of your life and if you do contract the virus, you are now immune and don’t need the vaccination.

Arizona Measles Outbreak Awareness

Measles Outbreak

With the measles outbreak continuing to grow across the US, people in Arizona are at great risk for catching the disease. Though there has only been one case in Arizona thus far out of the 700 reported, between the amount of international travelers visiting our state and the lower immunity rates, especially among children, health officials say it is only a matter of time before another person becomes sick along with the strong possibility of having a wider outbreak in our community.

Widespread Immunity Forms a Protective Barrier

Whenever a critical mass of people in a population are vaccinated against a disease, typically 95%, it is difficult for a disease to get a foothold and spread. The mass immunity forms a protective barrier for those who can’t get the vaccine shot due to their young age or various health issues. When we have a population of people who choose not to vaccinate themselves or their children, though, that protective barrier begins to have holes in it and the disease can far more easily spread from one person to another.

Here in Maricopa County, a study was done on the number of kindergarten students vaccinated against the Measles. It found that only 40% of kindergarten classrooms had enough students vaccinated to prevent an outbreak. That means that 60% of our kindergarten classrooms has so many kids not vaccinated that the measles could easily take hold.

Measles is Extremely Contagious

Extremely contagious and long-lasting, the disease stays in the air and on surfaces for up to two hours after someone with the measles has touched a surface, coughed, or sneezed. If someone unvaccinated is in the vicinity, it is highly likely they will also come down with the disease. What’s more, it can take 12-21 days for symptoms to appear so you can be contagious long before you know you have the disease. With all the people traveling through our airports and visiting the state, keeping surfaces wiped down and regularly washing your hands is important for the community’s health and safety.

If you are not yet vaccinated with the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and don’t have any health issues that would prevent you from receiving the shot, now is a great time to get it. Without this protection, you are at high risk of coming down with the disease and by being vaccinated, you will be protecting others as well.

If You Think You Have the Measles

The measles can be dangerous for people to get, especially young children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems. The symptoms typically include:

  • Sore throat
  • Red rash (starts on the face and spreads downward)
  • dry cough
  • Runny nose
  • Fever
  • Inflamed eyes

If you think you may have the measles, call your doctor or local health clinic before going in. You will be extremely contagious and don’t want to spread it to others. The local health department will also become involved and want a list of public places you have visited to let others know of the threat. If an outbreak does occur and you or your child are not able to be vaccinated, it is recommended you avoid public places until the threat has passed.

Professional Infectious Disease Cleanup Services

If you have questions or need professional help, give us a call or click here to learn about our infectious disease cleanup service.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site! Call Now ButtonClick to CALL NOW • OPEN 24/7
Central AZ (602) 770-4972 • Northern AZ (928) 203-6744 • Southern AZ (520) 333-6234

© 2011-2020 BioTeamAZ • All Rights Reserved • Sitemap • Privacy Policy
Arizona's Best Biohazard Cleanup Company • BioTeamAZ • 3370 North Hayden Road, #123 • Scottsdale, AZ 85251

Biohazard Digital Marketing - LPL Enterprises