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Outbreaks of Hepatitis A in US Communities, 2017–2018: Firsthand Experiences and Operational Lessons From Public Health Responses

Michael R. Snyder MALD, Meghan D. McGinty PhD, MPH, MBA, Matthew P. Shearer MPH, Diane Meyer MPH, Christopher Hurtado MHS, and Jennifer B. Nuzzo DrPH, SM
Date posted:
September 11, 2019
Publication type:

Am J Public Health 2019;109(S4):S297-S302

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Objectives. To identify and analyze common challenges from multiple US communities affected by the hepatitis A epidemic beginning in March 2017, and to identify operational lessons to support preparedness for similar future public health emergencies.

Methods. We conducted semistructured interviews with health officials from 9 city or county health departments to collect the firsthand experience of public health responders. We collected data from January to October 2018 via teleconference. Key informants, whom we purposefully sampled, were senior public health officials who were directly involved in outbreak response or in preparing for potential hepatitis A outbreaks in their communities.

Results. Several themes emerged during these discussions, including common challenges and solutions pertaining to sanitation and hygiene infrastructure, hepatitis A vaccination, health workforce availability and surge capacity, communication and stigma, and partnerships and coordination with local law enforcement and other stakeholders.

Conclusions. By generating key, evidence-based operational lessons, this study can inform response activities in localities currently experiencing outbreaks as well as community preparedness for possible future outbreaks due to the presence of similar at-risk populations.



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