Hepatitis A outbreak declared in South Carolina, Aiken County has most cases

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Monday, May 13th, 2019 / News 12 at 11 o'clock

AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - There is now officially an outbreak of hepatitis A in the state of South Carolina according to the Department and Health and Environmental Control, and Aiken County has the most cases.

Kevin Malony says he's puzzled.

"I don't know what hepatitis A really is," he admitted to News 12.

He says even when Aiken had a small scare a few months ago, he didn't really think much of it.

"As far as affecting every day life, and my family and I with what we're doing and where we're going--really has no effect," he said.

Malony also added: "I have no reservations about bringing my family to Aiken to eat."

But the fact of the matter is, hepatitis A, a contagious liver infection caused by contact with an infected person--or contaminated food and water--is an issue in South Carolina.

"We have begun to see an increase in cases of Hepatitis A around the entire state," explained Public Health Director Nick Davidson.

"This is an unexpected number of cases for the same time frame in the state as compared to previous years," added State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell.

Normally--South Carolina has 19 cases a year. This year, they've had 86 since November. Aiken County has the most reported cases, but there's good news there too.

"There was not evidence that there is ongoing person to person transmission in a chain of transmission in Aiken County," said Bell.

"The thought has never crossed my mind to vaccinated," said Malony.

But for others like small business owner Katy Lipscomb, a short trip to avoid sickness could be worth it.

"If there's an easy way you can just go to the health department and just get a shot to prevent it--then yeah I'm for it," Lipscomb told News 12.

For now, officials aren't recommending you get vaccinated unless you're at high risk. Those groups include people recently in jail, drug users, and men who have sex with other men.

The best advice: be clean.

"Good hygiene, diligently washing your hands, is an important way to prevent hepatitis A," Bell said.

If you do fall in that high risk category or have been exposed to someone with hepatitis A, officials say you should contact your doctor to get vaccinated, or visit one of several DHEC departments throughout the state.