Southeast Missouri continues to receive increased reports of Hepatitis A virus linked to an ongoing outbreak, according to the Ste. Genevieve County Health Department.

As of July 2, 343 cases had been reported in the state, with many of those in Southeast Missouri, according to local health officials,

Thirty counties have had reported cases, and there have been two outbreak-associated deaths. Fifteen cases have been reported among food-handlers.

Hepatitis A is most commonly transmitted by eating food prepared or served by someone who is infected. This can occur in restaurants or homes. People with close or household contact with anyone at high risk should also be immunized.

Symptoms of Hepatitis A include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, dark urine, clay colored stools and joint pain.

Everyone is encouraged to get immunized.

For a limited time, the Ste. Genevieve County Health Department has the Hepatitis A vaccine available free of charge. No appointment is necessary.

For more information, call the health department at 573-883-7411 or stop by the department at 115 Basler Drive in Ste. Genevieve.

(Information in a release from the Ste. Genevieve County Health Department.)