The Victorian Health Department has issued a notification of a Hepatitis A outbreak in the gay community of Melbourne Victoria.
An outbreak of hepatitis A has been identified in Victoria. As of 12 January, 27 confirmed cases have been identified, and a further 12 cases of hepatitis A infection are being investigated. Of the 27 confirmed cases, all are male and most have not travelled overseas, indicating that hepatitis A is passing between men who have sex with men (MSM) in Victoria. A number of cases have visited sex on premises venues or report using dating apps or websites. Some cases are being identified in people who inject drugs.
Hepatitis A is a viral illness that is spread from the faeces of an infected person to another via the mouth.
Main ways of transmission are poor hand washing after going to the bathroom or before handling food however gay sex can also lead to transmission via rimming, scat or faecal contamination of the penis or hands getting into the mouth.
Symptoms Of Hepatitis A
- The incubation period is between 15 to 50 days with an average of 28 days
- Abdominal pain
- Jaundice (yellow changes in the skin as well as the whites of the eyes)
- Dark urine
Hep A Prevention
Hepatitis A can be easily prevented with hand washing with soap and hot water after going to the bathroom and before touching food. After sexual activity, cleaning up with plenty of soap and hot water can reduce the risk of sexual transmission.
Importantly there is a vaccine that can help prevent infection. The Victorian government is funding for all men who have sex with men to be vaccinated against Hep A for free with government supplies.
The free vaccination for Meningococcal Meningitis is also still active so if you have not received your Meningococcal (A,C,Y,W) vaccine you could do these both at the same time.
Your doctor is able to test if you have had previous vaccination for Hepatitis A. If you already have antibodies (sign of vacccination) you do not require an additional vaccination. If you are unsure it is safe to have the vaccination without checking via a blood test however many doctors routinely check Hep A status as part of initial sexual health screening.
If you have any questions you can talk with your doctor and direct them to the alert on the Victorial Health Website:
Important Vaccination Update For MSM Jan 2018
Dr George Forgan-Smith