Hepatitis town hall forums set for Thursday

PARKERSBURG — The Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department will be holding two town hall meetings on Thursday about the spread of Hepatitis A in the region.

The “Stop The Spread of Hepatitis” town hall forums will be Thursday at South Parkersburg Baptist Church, 1655 Blizzard Drive in Parkersburg, at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Carrie Brainard, public information specialist with the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department, said an epidemiologist from the state will talk about the outbreak of Hepatitis A around the state. The MOV Health Department’s clinical director and the health officer will discuss what has been happening in this area.

The MOV Health Department provides public health services to Calhoun, Pleasants, Ritchie, Roane, Wirt and Wood counties.

There have been reported Hepatitis A cases over the last few months at local restaurants and other places. Outbreaks have been reported at prisons around the state.

Since March 2018, the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health has reported an increase in the number of confirmed cases of the acute Hepatitis A virus, according to its website. This increase in cases has primarily been among injection and non-injection drug users, homeless or mobile individuals and those who have been recently incarcerated. Viral sequencing has linked cases from Kentucky and California, the website said.

There have been 2,275 cases reported statewide over the last year, according to the Bureau for Public Health’s website.

”It is an epidemic,” Brainard said.

In the MOVHD’s coverage area, there have been 268 confirmed cases of Hepatitis A, she said.

The majority have been in Wood County, but the other counties in the area are averaging 5-10 cases.

”We want people to know what is happening,” Brainard said.

Information will be presented about getting the vaccination for Hepatitis A and the things people can do themselves to prevent from getting it.

The presentations will be followed by questions from the audience.

”We are telling people to come out and get educated,” Brainard said. ”We will stay until everyone’s questions are answered.”

For more information, call the health department at 304-485-7374.