Kentucky Hepatitis A Outbreak Continues, Reaches 117 Cases

Feb 23, 2018

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A multi-county outbreak of Hepatitis A remains ongoing with the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) now reporting 117 cases.

According to the DPH, 96 of the cases were reported in Jefferson County. Cases were also found in Boyd, Bullitt, Carter, Hopkins, Leslie, Marion, McCracken and Taylor counties. The outbreak was first reported by DPH on Nov. 21, 2017. No deaths have been reported in Kentucky.

The 10-year average number of acute hepatitis A cases has been approximately 20 cases per year in the Commonwealth.

Forty-five specimens from Kentucky were sent out for testing of the virus at the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. 38 cases genetically match outbreaks in California and Utah.

According to a release, the primary risk factors for Kentucky cases have been illicit drug use and homelessness, but a single source has not been identified. Transmission occurs through person-to-person contact.

The hepatitis A vaccine has been recommended for children in Kentucky aged 12 through 23 months since 2006. It is also recommended for adults at increased risk.

The virus is found in the stool of people infected with hepatitis A and is usually spread from person to person by putting something in the mouth that has been contaminated with the stool of a person infected with hepatitis A.

Signs and symptoms of hepatitis A include jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes), dark-colored urine, fatigue, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhea, fever, and grey-colored stools. Persons with symptoms should seek medical care for prompt diagnosis and treatment.