HEPATITIS A: Western States React Slowly to CDC Warnings
Few Western states have made progress in addressing a CDC recommendation to implement routine hepatitis A vaccinations for children. Of the 17 primarily Western states with outbreaks over the national average, only one state appears to have made progress, the AP/Casper Star-Tribune reports. The Hepatitis Foundation International graded each state; only Oklahoma received an "A." Arizona, Texas and Nevada "did well" due to some local area requirements for vaccinations, but California, Missouri, New Mexico, Colorado, South Dakota and Washington state all received a "C" because such mandates are still pending. Six states -- Utah, Idaho, Oregon, Alaska, Montana and Wyoming -- almost failed, earning a "D" grade. Arkansas received an "F". Each state exceeded the national average of hepatitis A cases, some having as many as 20 hepatitis A cases out of 100,000 people -- twice the national average from 1987 to 1997. But doctors and health officials argue that inoculation mandates are "slow to enact," saying "even states in the 'D' range are working to fight the disease." Many Western states have a high incidence due to increased migrant traffic from Mexico and Central America, where the disease is common; a largely rural population; and a number of Native American reservations that frequently experience outbreaks. Each year, 200,000 Americans become infected and 100 eventually die. The national cost of the disease is estimated at $450 million annually (Wolfson, 2/25).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.