Hepatitis A Virus: Wreaking Havoc for Public Health

Author: Holly Montejano, MS, CIC, CPHQ, VA-BC

Categories: Clinical Pathogens/Alerts November 28, 2017
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Hepatitis A virus is not for the faint of heart! This highly contagious and vaccine-preventable virus attacks the liver, with symptoms including fever, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), stomach pain, lack of appetite and nausea, and for otherwise healthy individuals, reaching the road to recovery could take several weeks (1). Young children often have no symptoms of the illness. However, for those with underlying liver issues this illness can lead to liver failure and even death (1).

Hepatitis A virus is often spread person-to-person via fecal-oral route or from consuming contaminated food or water (1). This virus is resilient and very difficult to kill, allowing it to live on surfaces for months outside the human body.

The National Impact of Hepatitis A this Year:

Hepatitis A has created a challenging year for public health across the nation. California, Utah and Michigan are currently experiencing outbreaks among their homeless population, those who use illicit drugs and their close contacts (2-4). Controlling an outbreak within these populations has been difficult due to close living quarters, an unclean environment, limited resources for cleaning, and low compliance with infection prevention interventions, creating the perfect storm for continued viral transmission. New York City has reported increased infections amongst the homosexual community, particularly men having sex with men (5). In addition, Hepatitis A infections can occur among people who have consumed food prepared by an infected food handler (1). The importance of appropriate handwashing and surface cleaning in both the food handling and healthcare environments can not be underestimated!

Post- Hurricane Concern for Hepatitis A: There is also concern for infection in areas severely damaged by this year’s devastating hurricane season due to flood waters mixing with raw sewage (6,7). If you have been impacted by this season’s hurricanes please be sure to avoid standing water and wash your hands with soap and clean water after contact with raw sewage. [To help those in need, PDI and Nice-Pak partnered with Good360to distribute over 3.5 MILLION wet wipes.]

Hepatitis A Virus Prevention:

While there is a vaccine for Hepatitis A, most people in the US only receive this if they are traveling abroad to an area with endemic infection or if they have been exposed to a known contact (1). If you think you may have been exposed to someone infected with this virus you should contact your physician or your local health department to receive the hepatitis A vaccine, and if it is decided that you are a high-risk, close contact you may also be given an injection of immune globulin.

To help control the spread of HAV through the environment, PDI can help with our EPA-registered Sani- Cloth® Bleach Germicidal Disposable Wipes—a great tool for surface disinfection. We also offer Sani- Hands® Instant Hand Sanitizing Wipes, an alcohol-based wipe for hand hygiene for use when soap and water are not available.

With appropriate hand hygiene and environmental cleaning, PDI can help us all remain healthy and hepatitis A-free this holiday season!

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hav/afaq.htm#transmission

2. California Department of Public Health:https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/Immunization/Hepatitis-A-Outbreak.aspx

3. Utah Department of Health: http://health.utah.gov/epi/diseases/hepatitisA/HAVoutbreak_2017

4. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services: http://www.michigan.gov/mdhhs/0,5885,7-339-71550_2955_2976_82305_82310-447907–,00.html

5. MMWR. September 22, 2017. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/66/wr/mm6637a7.htm

6. Stone, Judy. “Hidden Health Hazards After Hurricanes: What to Expect After Harvey”. August 26, 2017. com: https://www.forbes.com/sites/judystone/2017/08/26/hidden-health-hazards-after-hurricanes-what-to-expect-after-harvey/#3df7fb6231a6

7. Sciubba, Jennifer and Jeremy Youde. “Puerto Rico’s Troubles are Far from Over. The Population’s Health is at Risk”. October 13, 2017. WashintonPost.com: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/10/13/puerto-ricos-troubles-are-far-from-over-the-populations-health-is-at-risk/?utm_term=.73f78662c04d

Author

Holly Montejano MS, CIC, CPHQ, VA-BC
holly Clinical Science Liaison, PDI Gulf Coast

Profile

Holly’s passion for infectious disease epidemiology developed during her undergraduate studies at University of Connecticut, where she studied biology and anthropology – and the profound impact of disease on people, public health and within healthcare systems. This passion led to a graduate program focused in infectious disease epidemiology and a post-graduate epidemic intelligence service (EIS) fellowship in public health, and a graduate certification in infection control at the University of South Florida.

After several years as a public health epidemiologist, Holly transitioned into infection prevention and healthcare epidemiology where she currently is part of a dynamic clinical affairs team, supporting the Gulf Coast region as a Clinical Science Liaison (CSL).

Contact

Phone: 321.439.7923

Company Website: Pdihc.com

Email: Holly.Montejano@pdihc.com

Hobbies

Interior design
Beach staycations
Little League baseball and softball

Education

University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
Bachelor of Science in Biology and Anthropology

Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
Master of Science in Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences (Epidemiology and Infectious Disease)

Certification
Certification Board of Infection Control (CBIC)- CIC
Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (NAHQ)- CPHQ
Vascular Access- Board Certified (VA-BC)
Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt Certification
Prosci Change Management Certification

Why I love what I do

Infectious disease epidemiology – from both a biological and anthropological standpoint – have always been a passion of mine. Studying the effects of disease on populations (from a public health standpoint and from that of an Infection Preventionist) has fueled my interest in patient safety and quality outcomes initiatives. My work of providing clinical expertise and evidence-based guidance on infection prevention products (which are used in communities and healthcare systems daily) bolsters the satisfaction I experience in this role.

Areas of Expertise

Microbiology and infectious disease transmission
Infection Prevention
Patient Safety and healthcare quality
Safety culture
Public Health
Vascular access
Environmental disinfection
Performance Improvement
Education

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