Hepatitis A cases rising in southern West Virginia

BECKLEY, W.Va. (AP) — Health officials say a West Virginia county reported a five-fold increase in hepatitis A cases within two months.

The number of hepatitis A cases in Raleigh County rose from 19 at the end of September to 100 at the end of November.

Statewide, there are 1,963 confirmed cases, with the majority in Kanawha and Cabell counties — 763 and 256 cases, respectively. Raleigh and Fayette counties are reporting the fifth and seventh highest totals as of Friday.

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources says of the confirmed cases, 74 percent of those infected report illicit drug use.

Health officials are urging people to get vaccinated against the hepatitis A virus.

Infection can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months.

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