Health department recommends vaccines during hepatitis A outbreak

Hepatitis A Outbreak hits Kentucky

The Kentucky Department of Public Health is handing out 10,000 hepatitis A vaccinations to the 10 counties hardest hit by the multi-state outbreak.

While it's believed the death is related to hepatitis A, the official cause of death has not been released.

However, in rare cases, KCHD officials say the disease can cause liver failure and death. The disease is typically spread when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food, or beverages contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool from a person who's infected. It will host a vaccination clinic for those groups from 8 a.m.to 6 p.m. Friday at its location at 108 Lee St., and at the same times May 30 at the Civic Center and June 1 at the St. George Conference Center at Court and Lee Streets.

Eight food establishments in Kanawha, Putnam, and Cabell counties have had a food service worker diagnosed with hepatitis A. No customers of those establishments have been diagnosed with the illness.

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Kentucky usually sees about 20 cases of Hepatitis A each year.

Each of the counties will receive 1,000 doses of vaccine to help protect people against the outbreak that has led to at least 629 cases statewide since last fall, the department said. This is more common in people 50 and older and people with liver disease.

Hepatitis A can be prevented with a vaccine, which is recommended for children older than one year and adults living in the areas most impacted. Those include Boyd and Greenup counties, which are adjacent to West Virginia, as well as Bullitt, Carter, Hardin, Jefferson, McCracken, Meade, Montgomery and Warren. Anyone who is unsure whether they need the vaccine should contact their local health department or medical professional. However, "you could be contagious ... two weeks before you have symptoms, so that tends to be why this virus spreads". But once symptoms appear, patients often initially report weakness, jaundice (yellowing of the skin), and abdominal pain.

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