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Sevier Co. Health Dept. gives out Hepatitis A vaccines to help fight outbreak

The TN Department of Health says there have been more than 1,400 cases of Hepatitis A in the state in just the last year, and nine people have died.

SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. — Alan Kenner just wanted to be sure.

"It's something that's pretty concerning," Kenner said.

He wants to avoid Hepatitis A.

"If you're going out to grocery shop, to the doctor, anything, people don't wash their hands," Kenner said.

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He and his girlfriend stopped by the Sevier County Health Department Tuesday to get a free vaccination.

It's part of an effort by the Tennessee Department of Health to fight a Hepatitis A outbreak.

"We typically have about five cases of Hepatitis A in Tennessee a year, and we're at over 1400 cases in this last year that we've just closed," Dr. Michelle Fiscus said.

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Among those 1400 cases in Tennessee, there has been nine deaths.

Nearly 60 percent of infected people go to the hospital.

Fiscus is with the Tennessee Immunization Program and says the virus affects the liver and can cause diarrhea, jaundice and vomiting.

It can last for months.

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"If you if use the restroom and you have bacteria from stool on your hands and they aren't washed well, then if you're infected with Hepatitis A virus then you can transmit that to other people," Fiscus said.

She says right now, they're recommending vaccinations for high-risk groups.

"Those are people who are experiencing homelessness, using recreational drugs, men who have sex with men and people who know they've come into direct contact with someone who has Hepatitis A," Fiscus said.

Kenner says Sevier County and every county in the state is trying to reach that high-risk group.

"They're just trying to find any way that they can to engage with those folks," Fiscus said.

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