HOUSTON – Students and parents from HISD's Stephen F. Austin Senior High School on the east side are concerned now that thousands of them could've been potentially exposed to hepatitis A. The concern comes after the revelation a student has contracted the disease which is usually spread by ingesting fecal matter. On top of the concern are many questions.
"Do I have it? Or is it contagious," asks senior David Houston. "Do we all have to get checked or something? Do we have to get shots?"
A letter from the city's health department to parents and teachers went home Tuesday with the students. It informed them they may have been exposed to an individual with hepatitis A at the school between April 20 and May 11. Channel 2 has confirmed the individual is a student.
Parents say they should've been informed sooner.
At least one mom is making a doctor's appointment.
"I have to take my son and see what the doctor can say," says Xiomara Diaz. "He could have problems."
Representatives with the city's health department will be on hand at school tomorrow morning at 9 to provide information and answer any questions parents may have about hepatitis A. But since school ends next Thursday and since symptoms can take several weeks to develop, parents are urged to contact their health care provider if they believe anyone in their family is exhibiting those symptoms.
Hepatitis A Key Facts
• Hepatitis A is a viral liver disease that can cause mild to severe illness.
• The hepatitis A virus is transmitted through ingestion of contaminated food and water or through direct contact with an infectious person.
• Almost everyone recovers fully from hepatitis A.
• Hepatitis A infection risk is associated with a lack of safe water and poor sanitation.
• Improved sanitation and the hepatitis A vaccine are the most effective ways to combat the disease.
• The disease is closely associated with unsafe water, inadequate sanitation and poor personal hygiene.
• The hepatitis A virus is transmitted primarily by the faecal-oral route; that is when an uninfected person ingests food or water that has been contaminated with the faeces of an infected person.
More information can be found on the World Health Organization website.