In an attempt to halt a hepatitis A epidemic in Sanpete County, county health nurses Friday gave gamma globulin shots to 280 students.

All attend Moroni Elementary School, where the outbreak was identified earlier in the month."They didn't like it (the shot), but most of the kids were really good," said Sherron Boynton, Sanpete County public health nurse. "Only 10 were really bad."

But Saturday many had aching muscles - a small price to pay to avoid contracting the highly contagious disease.

Boynton said six cases of hepatitis A have been confirmed - five in Moroni Elementary, one in Moroni Junior High School.

"We have also seen a lot of flu-like illness, but those cases haven't been confirmed as hepatitis," she said. "We may have to immunize the junior high school kids, but one case doesn't justify that yet."

Wayne D. LeBaron, district health officer, said hepatitis virus A is usually transmitted by foods and water by the fecal-oral route.

"It is much milder than hepatitis B and people are usually much more responsive to treatment," he said. "Hepatitis A can be very serious, but it's not life threatening among these cases because they are under treatment."

None, however, has been hospitalized.

LeBaron said family members of the infected children have been treated with immune globulin to reduce their chances of contracting the disease.

Health officials believe the outbreak is confined to Sanpete County.

"It's a localized epidemic that could get large if public health controls aren't put in place," LeBaron said. "But the public health nurses are doing an outstanding job."

It's not the first time the nurses have dealt with hepatitis A.

Boynton said they see one or two cases a year. Seven years ago there were six cases in one family who all shared Thanksgiving dinner.

Symptoms of hepatitis A are nausea, vomiting, fever, abdominal pain and fatigue.