Hepatitis A Cases by County:
Boyd – 29
Carter – 5
Greenup – 12
ASHLAND In recent months, hepatitis A has increased in the [19659002ThenumberofcasescontinuestoincreasewiththemostrecentdataBoyd'sin29casesCarterCounty'sfiveandGreenupCounty's12accordingtoDrsJonathanBallardtheepidemiologistfortheKentuckyDepartmentofPublicHealth
There were 311 cases in Kentucky. These cases are related to the current outbreak and were reported between August 1, 2017 and April 7.
Boyd County cases also include employees at three restaurants in the area.
On Monday, the Department of Public Health (DPH) published a statement in the Cabinet for Health and Family Benefits (CHFS) recommending that everyone in Boyd, Greenup and Carter counties receive a hepatitis A vaccine ̵
Health Director of the Ashland-Boyd Ministry of Health, Mary Hardy, said that an average of about 100 injections per day was administered at the facility. Several restaurants have also contacted the department to provide vaccinations to their staff.
Hardy said the department experienced an increase in cases of hepatitis A in late December. Since then, the disease has caused several hospitalizations by Boyd County residents.
"I would say at least 25-30 percent (of those diagnosed) were hospitalized, if not more," said Hardy.
Hospitalization is very common with the disease, Ballard said. He found hepatitis A is very malignant and causes 70 percent of the people who get it to stay in a hospital. He also pointed out that one in every 100 people with the disease usually dies.
DPH's recent statement said that one death was associated with the outbreak and Ballard said it was in Louisville.
Greenup Public Health Director Chris Crum said that the Greenup Health Department also offers vaccinations. For this week, he said the facility had requested 450 doses of immunization.
Jeff Barker, head of the Public Health Department of the Carter County Health Department, said the department offers vaccines for those who have had or are uninsured for hepatitis A. Their primary users or local pharmacies
are Ashland and Louisville The two federal states that are primarily associated with the onset of hepatitis A, Ballard said. He touched on the illness's journey to Kentucky and said that it had spread from California, which had its own outbreak last year. The two risk factors he linked to the disease were drug use (both injectable and non-injectable drugs) and homelessness
"About 70 percent of our cases in Kentucky report drug use or homelessness," he said
. Hardy also talked about the correlation with drug use, saying that those in the ABCHD Needle Exchange Program had received vaccines.
The spread of hepatitis A is due to poor hygiene, Ballard said, pointing out that the disease is mainly due to hand-to-hand contact and contact surfaces. Someone with the disease can touch a surface and others who come in contact with the surface can also get the disease by eating or touching their mouth without first washing their hands.
Ballard said that hepatitis A can also be spread by uncooked food or by a contagious person touching food.
"But overall, there is still a very low risk that it will be spread from our food to the restaurants," he said.
Ballard looked at the future implications of the outbreak, he does not believe that it will disappear quickly.
"It is well known that this type of outbreak with hepatitis A took one to two years to gain full control," he said.
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