BOSTON (CBS) – The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is reporting an increase in hepatitis A cases in the state.

The department says there have been 65 total cases reported statewide since April, including 30 in Boston. The infected patients had been experiencing homelessness or substance use disorder, according to the department. One infected person has died.

“The current increase of cases in Boston is not linked to infected persons who have traveled outside of Boston or contaminated food or water,” the Boston Public Health Commission said in a statement.

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious viral infection that affects the liver and can cause severe illness or death in rare cases.  Agencies are working to get the vaccine directly to at-risk populations. Health experts are also reminding the public that the infection can be prevented by thorough hand washing, especially after using the bathroom and before eating.

Those at a higher risk of getting hepatitis A include the homeless, substance users, men who have sex with men, and people traveling to countries where there has been a hepatitis A outbreak.

 

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