Rapid Response

By Jamie Shuster

hep-aStopping the spread of infectious diseases requires a rapid response by public health staff, as well as a willingness to coordinate efforts across geographic divides.

Last week, an alert was issued warning that as many as 5,000 people who visited a restaurant in Springfield, Missouri between May 8 and 16, might have been exposed to hepatitis A.

Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by a virus. People usually become sick within 15 to 50 days of exposure to the virus, so it’s important to get treatment as soon as possible to prevent the virus from developing into hepatitis A infection.

Treatment consists of a two-dose vaccine. The first vaccine dose must be given within 14 days of exposure to be effective, which means those at risk need to be reached and treated quickly.

Earlier this week, two people visiting the South Carolina Lowcountry heard the news and realized they had dined at the restaurant in Missouri during the specified dates. They were approaching the end of the 14-day window to get a vaccine and called DHEC for help. Our Lowcountry Public Health immunization team quickly connected them with our epidemiology staff to perform an assessment.

After determining that the individuals should get vaccinated, our Lowcountry immunization team offered to provide the vaccinations during weekend hours, if necessary, to make sure treatment was received quickly. Both individuals received vaccines here in the Lowcountry and were able to carry on their visit with peace of mind.

Thank you to our Lowcountry Immunization and Epi Teams for your quick response and willingness to go the extra mile to help these individuals, who were far from home, access post-exposure hepatitis A treatment.

One thought on “Rapid Response

  1. Carolyn Sand

    Prevention will always be the key to thwarting the spread of diseases but it can’t be avoided, the government and all the concerned agencies should have a contingency plan when faced with the worst outbreaks.

    Reply

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