Former inmate says Erie County Health Department contacted him about possible Hep. A exposure


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)–A West Seneca man tells us he’s worried tonight after getting a letter from the Erie County Health Department.

It says he may have been exposed to Hepatitis A while he was an inmate at the county correctional facility in Alden.

In the letter, the Erie County Health Department states a case of Hepatitis A was diagnosed at the correctional facility, and that people there between November 9th and 20th may have been exposed to the virus.

Richard Cooper was an inmate at the correctional facility during the time of this incident.

In a statement sent to us earlier today, Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein said:

So far in 2019, the Erie County Department of Health has received reports of 44 hepatitis A cases in Erie County. Some of those cases were among individuals who were incarcerated at the Erie County Correctional Facility in Alden or the Erie County Holding Center.

As part of our investigation process, our Office of Epidemiology works with the Erie County Department of Correctional Health to identify individuals who may have been exposed to the hepatitis A virus. We notify potentially exposed individuals with a letter that includes how the virus is transmitted and symptoms of infection.

Although the risk of developing hepatitis A infection is low, we offer the hepatitis A vaccine to at-risk individuals to protect them from future exposures. This practice follows guidance from a New York State Department of Health advisory issued this month, which recommends offering the hepatitis A vaccine to people who are, or were recently, incarcerated.

Erie County Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein

Cooper tells us his primary care doctor has been treating him for symptoms including fever, weight loss, and abdominal pain. He’s now having Cooper tested for Hepatitis A.

“I just think there needs to be better procedures to find out people who may have hepatitis because when you go into the door, within two, three days you have a TB test and things like that, why isn’t there a protocol for things like this?” Cooper said.

We have made attempts to speak with officials at the Erie County Sheriff’s Office, we have not heard back at this time.

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