How contagious is Hepatitis A? - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

How contagious is Hepatitis A?

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Paul McGaha discusses the transmission of Hepatitis A Paul McGaha discusses the transmission of Hepatitis A
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  • Local concern about Hepatitis A

    Local concern about Hepatitis A

    Tuesday, October 29 2013 6:38 PM EDT2013-10-29 22:38:44 GMT
    It's possible hundreds of East Texans may be at risk for developing Hepatitis A.  East Texan Bishop Joseph Strickland was one of 2 American bishops who contracted the virus during a recent trip to Rome.More >>
    It's possible hundreds of East Texans may be at risk for developing Hepatitis A.  East Texan Bishop Joseph Strickland was one of 2 American bishops who contracted the virus during a recent trip to Rome.More >>
TYLER, TX (KLTV) -

Regional Medical Director Paul McGaha with Health Service Region 4/5 North said he is aware of the local confirmed case of Hepatitis A, which Bishop Joseph Strickland believes he contracted from eating contaminated fruit while attending new bishop school in Rome last month.

McGaha said people are most contagious during the first two weeks of contracting the virus. It can also take two weeks or longer to even experience any symptoms, which is what reportedly happened to Bishop Strickland.

The Diocese of Tyler said after returning home from Rome, the bishop visited several parishes and schools after unknowingly contracting Hepatitis A, but even so, McGaha said he believes there is still a very low risk that others have caught the infection. 

"Hepatitis A cannot be transmitted through the air just by sitting next to someone or being the room with someone. It's most usually spread by contaminated food or water. The risk is extremely low in a communion-type situation," McGaha explained. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hepatitis A rates in the United States have declined 95% since the Hepatitis A vaccine first became available in 1995. The vaccine became a statewide requirement for school entry in 2009. McGaha said even if you have not received the vaccination and were around someone infected with Hepatitis A in the settings discussed, your chances of catching it are still very low. However, McGaha said the vaccine is highly effective and recommends getting it, especially if you plan on traveling outside of the country. 

For more information on Hepatitis A, click here. 

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