Two Hepatitis A town hall meetings held in Parkersburg

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PARKERSBURG, W.Va.-(WTAP) An official with the West Virginia Bureau of Public Health says the state's opioid epidemic has a lot to do with the rise in the past year of cases of hepatitis

Epidemiologist Shannon McBee spoke Thursday at two town meetings in Parkersburg on the hep A outbreak.

McBee says 70% of those cases statewide involve individuals reporting they take or inject drugs.

While they are among the highest risk of people who can get the illness, she adds anyone can come in contact with it.

"Going to the grocery store, touching the buggy to get your groceries, if someone was handling that buggy who was infected with hepatitis A, it can be transmitted that way, Epidemiologist McBee said. "We can all be at risk for hepatitis."

People like those McBee described are considered high risk, and are eligible to get a vaccine for hepatitis A at no cost from the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department.

The health department identifies not only drug users, but those without homes and physical caretakers of others as being some of the highest at risk.

In spite of reports in the past year of outbreaks involving restaurant workers, McBee says they make up only 1% of reported hep A cases.

She says none of those cases involve the condition being transmitted to customers.