Missouri has seen 414 Hepatitis A cases in 35 counties since September 2017. Only about 10 cases per year were reported before then.
Butler County in southeast Missouri leads in the number of Hepatitis A cases with 108, followed by Franklin County in southeast Missouri with 69 and Howell County in southern Missouri with 45. Of the cases, 233 people had to been treated at a hospital and two people died.
Officials are concerned that the hepatitis A outbreak in Missouri could worsen if the liver disease spreads to urban areas.
Hep A usually spreads when a person ingests the virus from objects, food or drinks contaminated by undetected amounts of stool from an infected person.
Doctors believe most of the people recently diagnosed were infected through person-to-person contact, mostly among people who use illicit injection or non-injection drugs and their close contacts. At-risk people, such as recreational drug users and the homeless are urged to get vaccinated.
Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver that can cause loss of appetite, nausea, tiredness, fever, stomach pain, and other symptoms.