YAKIMA — The first death linked to the current hepatitis A outbreak in Yakima County was confirmed as of Feb. 5 by the Yakima Health District officials.

The adult patient was a Yakima County resident who was associated with the homeless and/or illicit drug using community.

The county health district has confirmed a total of 35 cases of hepatitis A in Yakima County reported Dr. Teresa Everson, Yakima Health District’s health officer, in a department release issued Wednesday.

Most cases have occurred in people who are homeless and/or using illicit drugs. “Unfortunately, homeless and/or illicit drug users are the most vulnerable to hepatitis A infection as they are often in poorer health conditions than the general population,” Dr. Everson explained. “As a result, when they become sick from hepatitis A, they are more likely to be hospitalized or die from the infection.”

“Hepatitis A is preventable through vaccination and proper hygiene. We encourage the public to talk with their personal physician,” said Dr. Everson.

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