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Two Hepatitis Related Deaths Reported In Franklin County

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Officials with the State Department for Public Health are investigating two recent hepatitis A related deaths in the Frankfort area.  A statewide hepatitis A outbreak was declared last year.

Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Dr. Jeffrey Howard says vaccination is the best way to prevent the disease.  Thorough hand washing is also important.

Howard says hep A is being spread person to person, primarily among people who use injection and non-injection drugs including marijuana, people who are homeless and their close direct contacts. “We’re continuing to fight it from a state and local level.  In fact, you’re going to be hearing soon about another round of funding that we’re going to be sending out to the local counties to help them respond locally,” said Howard.

Illness from hepatitis A is typically acute and self-limited, but it can cause serious complications, even death, in people with existing health problems.

Although cases with food handlers occur, that’s not the case with this outbreak.  Since August of 2017, more than 2,275 cases of hepatitis A have been reported in 94 Kentucky counties.  There have been 16 deaths including the two in Franklin County.

Stu Johnson is a reporter/producer at WEKU in Lexington, Kentucky.
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