27% of the population of Dickens County is being treated for Hepatitis A. The State of Texas has now issued a Hepatitis Alert after 22 people tested positive for the disease which is passed from person to person. The city of Spur lies in the heart of Dickens County, 73 miles East of Lubbock. That's where more than 1,000 people have received preventive shots of immune globulin in the past two days.
But the citizens of Dickens County are handing the blame to health officials, claiming they should have stopped this long before it surfaced at May Day celebrations in Spur.
"Somewhere in this process I just feel that there was communication loss, how things could've been addressed early so that we wouldn't be at this point," says Spur Resident Ricky Martinez. This point he's referring to is a two day clinic to offer citizens with a temporary vaccination for Hepatitis A. It's a situation resident he says the town should've never had to deal with.
"It makes us nervous," says Dickens resident Leslie Kesey. She has driven to Spur so that her family can receive the immune globulin shot being offered, it's a problem she says affected the community long before the may day event on May 14th.
"The few people that we know that have had it have been hospitalized," she explains.
Dickens County is where officials say it all started. In mid-April, a handful of Hepatitis A cases are confirmed here in Dickens. Those infected are treated and at this point, health officials believe they have taken care of the problem, until weeks later when the illness resurfaces, this time in the community of Spur.
"I don't think TDH did as much as they could have up to this point in the Hepatitis A outbreak here," says Ricky. He alleges if the TDH had taken action in mid-April, the Spur outbreak could have been prevented. But health officials say they did take action by contacting those at risk and setting up a small clinic.
"In this case it's quite possible that we may've had multiple sources which would've made our job more difficult in determining where it is specifically coming from," explains David Dickerson, Public Information Officer for the Texas Department of Health Service. He says the urgency of the situation grew after the may day ice cream social when there was possible mass exposure. "We'll continue to check up on this community," he adds.
If you believed you were exposed to the Hepatitis
It's important to realize that you may be infected with the virus and not even know it. It can take up to 30 days for symptoms to set in. But when they do, you may feel the following:
If you can't make it to the clinic or if you need more information, call the Texas Department of State Health Services in Lubbock at (806) 767-0483.