Hepatitis A Virus in Lawrence, Kansas - Vaccine Now Available

There has been a concentration of hepatitis A virus that has been detected at the Lawrence Kansas River Wastewater Treatment Facility indicating possible transmission within the Lawrence community. Based upon the information provided by Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department, we currently have vaccines and/or lab services for patients.  

While the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment have not identified any recent cases of HAV, this detection in wastewater may indicate transmission within the community. This increase peaked in mid-January and levels have continued to remain elevated suggesting community transmission is still occurring. In addition, there is an active outbreak of HAV in Shawnee County, Kansas among people experiencing homelessness and/or persons who use drugs (injection or non-injection).

Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). HAV is found in the stool and blood of people who are infected. Hepatitis A is very contagious. It is spread when someone unknowingly ingests the virus through close personal contact with an infected person or through eating contaminated foods or drinks. Symptoms of hepatitis A can last up to two months and include fatigue, nausea, stomach pain, and jaundice. While death from hepatitis A is rare, it can occur in patients with severely compromised immune systems, those who are older, or those who have a co-existing hepatitis B or hepatitis C infection.

Per KDHE, due to the current hepatitis A outbreak in Shawnee County and increased concentration of HAV in Douglas County wastewater, strongly consider getting a vaccine if you: 

  • Use injection or non-injection drugs.
  • Are experiencing unstable housing and/or homelessness.
  • Are currently or have recently been incarcerated.
  • Are at increased risk of severe disease from infection, such as those with chronic liver disease or viral hepatitis infection.
  • Provide care for individuals who are experiencing homelessness, who use injection or non-injection drugs, or the elderly.

 

Hepatitis A vaccines are available by appointment at Heartland Community Health Center for current Heartland patients. If you are not a Heartland patient, vaccines are also available at the Lawrence Douglas County Health Department. 

If you have questions on whether or not you should receive the vaccine, call Heartland at (785) 841-7297. 

Picture of Marshall Kelley, MD

Marshall Kelley, MD

Interim Chief Clinical Officer, Pediatric Lead