According to the Washington State Department of Health, there is a Hepatitis outbreak in four counties, apparently where needle based drug use and homelessness are a growing problem.

According to information released by the Department:

"Washington state is experiencing a hepatitis A outbreak in multiple counties in people who are living homeless or who use drugs.

While anyone who is not vaccinated can get hepatitis A, people who are living homeless or who use drugs are at higher risk, particularly if they don’t have access to sanitation, restroom facilities and handwashing stations."  

The Department says there are 13 reported cases, 9 in Spokane County, 2 in King, 1 in Snohomish, and 1 in Pend Orielle Counties. Of these 13, 8 required hospitalizations, but there have been no deaths.

Authorities say anyone can contract Hepatitis A especially if engaged in a number of unsafe health practices, including shared or other unsanitary needle use. The best way to prevent it is with the A vaccine, said officials.

The reason for concern is that Hepatitis A is a contagious pathogen that unlike B or others, does not have to be spread by way of blood or other direct fluid contact.