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The Great Smoky Mountain Journal

Tuesday, January 01, 2019 03:01 PM

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Nashville Officials Confirm Hepatitis Outbreak

Officials with the Metro Nashville Health Department (MPHD) confirmed the city is experiencing a Hepatitis A outbreak with a total of 14 cases, CBS affiliate WTVF reported.

The cases in Nashville have been reported over the past five months, which is an increase from the average of two cases a year that the city normally sees. MPHD is working to get the problem under control with the help of the Tennessee Department of Health.

The greatest concern during the outbreak, the department said, is among men who have sexual contact with men. The concern is great for illicit drug users, both who use needles and who don't, as well.

A representative of a Nashville community health clinic, Brian Haile, told WTVF that he is worried about the number of available doses of the Hepatitis A vaccine.

“There are over 18,000 men who have sex with men in Nashville. There are over 5,000 homeless individuals in Nashville, and there are an unknown number of drug users, Haile told WTVF. "We want to work closely with the Metro Public Health Department, to ensure that Nashville immediately gets an adequate supply of vaccine.”

Beginning Tuesday, MPHD will offer free vaccines at all three of Nashville's health centers to three at-risk groups: illicit drug users, men who have sexual contact with men and individuals experiencing homelessness. Those groups are at greatest risk to exposure, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC.)