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Dept. of Health warns of Hepatitis A outbreak

A warning from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, after an increase in the number of Hepatitis A cases in our state.

Over the last several years, 40 to 60 cases have been reported each year in our state.

This year, we've already seen 81 cases in Pennsylvania.

Medical professionals aren’t exactly sure why, but it’s something they want the public to be aware of.

Hepatitis A is a virus that attacks the liver, and has various levels of severity depending on a person’s age.

It’s spread through the ingestion of fecal matter of an infected person, and can be picked up on door knobs, light switches, or food.

In fact, Dr. John Goldman, an infectious disease doctor with UPMC Pinnacle, says food may be to blame for the increase.

"I assume it’s because we have so many big companies producing food. If you get contamination early in the food chain, it can spread to a lot of people," said Dr. Goldman.

It’s a virus that Dr. Goldman says just needs to run its course, and is not usually deadly.

He says the best ways to prevent it are to get vaccinated and frequently wash your hands.

Several other states are also experiencing outbreaks— including Ohio and West Virginia.