Protect your family during Kentucky Hepatitis A outbreak

PADUCAH — What is hepatitis A? How do you catch it? How do you prevent yourself from catching it? You might be asking those questions as a hepatitis A outbreak continues to spread in Kentucky.

It is currently unknown if cases in west Kentucky are connected to an outbreak in central and eastern Kentucky. It is also unclear where the local patients worked, but the health department says they did not work in health care or food service.

AQS QuiltWeek is upon us in Paducah. That means there are a lot of people in town from a lot of different places, and some may be sick with the virus.

Hepatits A, B, and C are all viral infections. The differences among them are how you catch them and if they are temporary or chronic. Regional Epidemiologist Lindsey Cunningham says the most recent outbreak is hepatitis A.

“Hepatitis A is a liver disease. It is transmitted fecal/oral,” Cunningham said. Reports across the state have largely pinpointed restaurants where employees don’t follow sanitation standards, although the west Kentucky patients did not work in that industry.



How would you know if you’re infected? “Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dark urine, gray-colored stools, and jaundice,” Cunningham said.

She says the best ways you can keep from getting the disease yourself are to get the hepatitis A vaccine and to simply wash your hands. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend scrubbing with soap for at least 20 seconds and rinsing under clean, running water.

“Washing your hands will be the best practice to prevent illness. And also the hep-A vaccine is available. It is a two-part vaccine, so if you get the first vaccine, you need to wait six months and then go back to get the second vaccine,” Cunningham said.

A focus on prevention will hopefully minimize the effects in our region.

Experts say parents who have children in school should go ahead and get them vaccinated. Under a new Kentucky Department of Public Health rule that goes into effect in July, the state will require students to have the two-dose hepatitis A vaccine series for the next school year on.

For information on this story and others, like Bryce Mansfield on Facebook.

Related articles:
Multiple hepatitis A cases confirmed in west Kentucky
Kentucky health agency recommending hepatitis A vaccination
Kentucky hepatitis A outbreak continues
Hepatitis A outbreak in McCracken, other Kentucky counties

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