Hepatitis A outbreak in McCracken, other Kentucky counties

MCCRACKEN COUNTY, KY – An outbreak of hepatitis A has been declared by the Kentucky Department of Public Health in McCracken County and several other counties in the state.

The Kentucky DPH says a total of 31 cases of acute hepatitis A — meaning symptoms came on rapidly — have been reported in Kentucky throughout 2017, which is about a 50 percent increase from the average number of cases per year in the state. The illness is serious, and the DPH says it can be life-threatening. It is often spread when people do not wash their hands properly or by eating uncooked or under-cooked food.

Jefferson County has had 19 confirmed cases, and most have happened since August. In addition to Jefferson and McCracken, cases have been reported in Jefferson, Shelby, Bullitt, Hardin, Henry, Anderson, Mason, Christian, Madison, Fayette, McCracken, Hopkins, and Leslie counties.

No deaths have been attributed to the outbreak, but the DPH says if you have symptoms, you are urged to contact your health care provider to be tested and treated if needed. Symptoms include jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes), dark-colored urine, fatigue, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, fever and gray stool.

Kids 1-18 recommended to get the hepatitis A vaccine, as well as adults who have increased risk factors or certain medical conditions. Otherwise, the best ways to keep from getting hepatitis A are to wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap, handle uncooked food properly and fully cook your food. The DPH says always wash your hands before eating or touching food and after using the toilet or changing a diaper. Use hand sanitizing gels and wipes if you don’t have access to soap and water.

For more information about hepatitis A, visit the CDC website.

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