Metro Public Health Department (MPHD) officials have confirmed 150 cases of hepatitis A have been reported in Nashville since December 2017. Those who remain at greatest risk of exposure to hepatitis A are people who use drugs (not just injection drug use), men who have sexual contact with men, and individuals experiencing homelessness.
Despite extensive efforts by state and local health departments, the number of cases in Nashville, and statewide, continues to rise steadily. While Nashville is experiencing a concentrated outbreak, Chattanooga is also experiencing significant numbers of cases, and over 400 people have been diagnosed with the illness statewide.
Today, local media outlets also reported the first case of a fatality from the illness. NewsChannel 5 reported that the fatality was a case reported in East Tennessee.
“We are very saddened by the recent death associated with hepatitis A and realize unfortunately, we could see more deaths, as this continues to be a very serious outbreak with more than half of the people identified with the illness needing hospitalization,” said Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner. “We will continue to respond aggressively, vaccinating high risk populations, educating and working with partners in and out of Tennessee to seek additional ways to stem this outbreak.”
In Nashville, the Health Department has lead an aggressive hepatitis A vaccine campaign, along with community partners and the Tennessee Department of Health. The Metro Health Department and its community partners have vaccinated more 7,400 people in Nashville since the outbreak was announced in late May. The total number of people vaccinated does not include vaccines given by private providers.
Metro health officials say that vaccination initiatives will continue in an effort to end the outbreak, including working with organizations that serve the homeless, reaching out to the LGBTQ community, working with the Davidson County Sherriff’s Office to vaccinate DCSO inmates, and efforts to reach those who use drugs.
A number of events have been scheduled to reach homeless populations, and those wishing to be vaccinated can visit one of Metro Public Health’s facilities, or one of Neighborhood Health’s offices, including the MyHouse location at 442 Metroplex Dr. Building D, Suite 200. Those who are insured can seek vaccination from their primary care providers, or directly from providers such as Walmart pharmacies.