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Erie County Hep A cases already 3x higher this year than normal

Erie County legislators will be asked Thursday to make some budget transfers to cover costs from the Hepatitis A rush vaccinations in February. Covering the costs of staff and vaccines meant a county Health Department account is $74,000 over budget, with half a year to go.

The cash will be taken from a Department of Social Services Medicaid account that is spending less than expected.

County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein says there have been 10 cases of Hepatitis A so far this year in the county, up from the standard 2-4 in an entire year, a national pattern.

"Outbreaks of Hepatitis A are not just in the main population that might deal with food handling and other risk factors for contamination," said Burstein, "but in other places across the United States, especially in Michigan or California, are experiencing large outbreaks among their homeless populations and their incarcerated populations."

The February vaccinations here involved two separate cases - a restaurant worker and homeless people in a Code Blue shelter - with county workers vaccinating people who had been potentially exposed in either case.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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