Hepatitis A outbreak reported in 2 West Virginia counties

Apr 21, 2018, 00:43
Hepatitis A outbreak reported in 2 West Virginia counties

More than 20 cases of Hepatitis A have been confirmed in Kanawha and Putnam counties since January of 2018.

352 cases of the disease have been reported in six Kentucky counties.

The outbreak was first reported in November.

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State health officials recently recommended vaccinations for residents of Jefferson, Bullitt, Hardin, Greenup, Carter and Boyd counties. "The risk of contracting Hepatitis A is greatest in those with risk factors for the disease, which in our outbreak include homelessness and drug abuse".

Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said the IN recommendation is an interesting step to take, and it's not a bad idea. One dose of Hepatitis A vaccine given within two weeks of exposure can help prevent contacts from becoming ill.

Dr. Ryan Stanton, a Lexington emergency physician, said the state's outbreak is concerning, but people should not worry too much about it. IN has 50 reported cases, as compared to Kentucky's 341.

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"A person with Hepatitis A is considered contagious for two weeks before and one week after symptom onset", the health department said in a statement.

On Sunday, TV station WDRB in Louisville reported a McDonald's employee in the Berea area might have hepatitis A, and last week, the station reported that a Louisville Applebee's employee was diagnosed. It can be transmitted through contact with an infected person or from tainted water and food. It attacks the liver and causes symptoms including abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, fever and jaundice.

People may experience mild to severe symptoms.

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Hepatitis A vaccinations are now required for Kentucky schoolchildren, beginning with the 2018-19 academic year. In general, the CDC recommends the hepatitis vaccine for children at age 1, as well as adults who may be at higher risk for hepatitis A or for complications from the illness. "The best way to prevent hepatitis A infection is to get vaccinated". He said a more immediate step is to be careful around places with salad bars and uncooked foods, clean your produce well, and, of course, wash your hands - especially after going to the bathroom and before preparing food. A two-dose Hepatitis A vaccine series is available for adults.

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