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Hepatitis A skyrocketing in Colorado

DENVER -- Colorado has seen more cases of hepatitis A this year than the state typically gets in an entire year, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said Wednesday.

So far, 26 cases have been reported in nine counties, mostly on the Front Range. All of cases involve adults.

About half of the infected people were hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

Hepatitis A is a liver infection that people typically get by ingesting food or drinks contaminated with stool from an infected person.

“People at higher risk should get the hepatitis A vaccine, which is extremely safe and highly effective,” state epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy said.

People who are at higher risk include men who have sexual contact with men, people who have sexual contact with an infected person, people who inject drugs and people with chronic liver disease.

People with hepatitis A can be contagious for two weeks before showing symptoms, which include yellow skin and eyes, fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine and light-colored stools.

Symptoms develop between two weeks and six weeks after an exposure, officials said.

The illness can be severe and last several weeks or months. It rarely causes liver failure and death.

The hepatitis A vaccine is routinely recommended for children, but most adults have not been vaccinated. The vaccine is available at doctors' offices and retail pharmacies, officials said.