1st death in Maricopa County linked to statewide hepatitis A outbreak

TEMPE, Ariz. (FOX 10) -- Maricopa County Public Health officials announced the first death in Maricopa County from the statewide hepatitis A outbreak.

This is the first death in Maricopa County, but the third death in Arizona since the outbreak started in November 2018.

Health officials say the person who died was at a higher risk for being affected by hepatitis A.

The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) say there have been 424 cases linked to this specific outbreak. About 80% of those cases resulted in hospitalization.

In May and June, officials with the Maricopa County Department of Public Health said customers at a Genghis Grill at Tempe Marketplace may have been exposed to hepatitis A. This is not related to the first Maricopa County death.

Some of the symptoms of the severe and contagious liver disease are fever, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, dark urine, joint pain, abdominal pain or discomfort, clay-colored bowel movements and yellowing of the skin and eyes.

Officials emphasize the importance of washing your hands after using the restroom or before preparing food, as the disease is spread by getting germs in your mouth.

Populations with the highest risk of contracting the disease are those who use or inject illegal drugs, people who are or recently living in unstable housing or who are homeless, and people who are or recently were in prison.

For more information on the hepatitis A outbreak, visit the Arizona Department of Health Services website.