CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Kristi Haynes knew she had a problem when her looks turned the color of congestion paint.
Haynes had been feeling strangely tired, but she didn’t have countless opportunities to look at herself in a reflect because she’d been homeless for a few months. Her fiance noticed her yellow eyes and freaked out. And that’s how Haynes knew she had caught the disease so many of her friends once had: hepatitis A.
Hepatitis A, a vaccine-preventable infection that attacks the liver and is spread by contaminated fecal matter, is a scourge in developing nations with poor cleanlines organizations. Imported contaminated menu is often to blame when the disease has occurred in developed countries.
But U.S. cases of the disease have tripled in 2018, and the outbreak has little to do with imported food.
Hepatitis A is spreading among drug-using and homeless people, with blowups of the disease moving from California to regimes such as Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and Missouri.
The toll has been prodigious: At least 10, 582 parties have been reported infected so far this year alone, a large number of whom have compelled substantial — and thus expensive — hospitalizations. Hepatitis A inflicts what is like severe flu manifestations: nausea, delirium, dizziness, overall stupor and jaundice. Without therapy, severe cases of hepatitis A can cause liver failure. At least 80 beings have died from this outbreak.
States, districts and metropolis have invested millions to fight their local outbreaks, but the money doesn’t address the root causes of their own problems: a decaying public health infrastructure, were destroyed by years of funding slice, that can’t fully meet the needs of its own population driven to homelessness and devastated by the opioid epidemic.
“Unfortunately, I see this hepatitis A outbreak as a evidence of the fraying social safety net, ” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, a public health officer for Seattle and King County, Washington.