FIVE people have been diagnosed with hepatitis A in the Loddon Mallee region this year.
It follows an outbreak of the disease, which has seen one person die, 42 confirmed cases statewide, one further probable case and an extra 22 under early investigation.
Victoria’s deputy chief health officer Brett Sutton said the death was associated with an outbreak of hepatitis A where more people had become infected in the past two months.
All cases are male and an increasing number are in people who inject drugs.
To help combat this, a free hepatitis A vaccination is being offered to men who have sex with men (MSM) and people who inject drugs.
Rich River Health Group clinical manager Catherine Edgley said the clinic would be taking part in the campaign until December 31.
‘‘A free, two-dose course of hepatitis A vaccine is available to all MSM in Victoria and all people who have injected drugs in the past 12 months,’’ she said.
‘‘Adults who get hepatitis A usually develop symptoms, which include fever, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain, followed by dark urine and yellow skin/eyes (also known as jaundice).’’
Hepatitis A is spread through person-to-person transmission, including sexual activity, and is not limited to MSM.
Transmission can also occur while sharing injecting equipment such as needles, and through the consumption of contaminated food and water.
The health department is also responding to an outbreak of meningococcal disease in MSM.
A free meningococcal ACWY vaccine is available to all MSM who live in Victoria until December 31.
Talk to your GP or nearest sexual health clinic to get the free vaccines.