In an update on the Kentucky hepatitis A outbreak, the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) has now reported 761 outbreak cases, including 467 hospitalizations as of June 2. In addition, 6 hepatitis A related deaths have been reported.
433 cases have been reported in Jefferson County.
In November 2017, Kentucky health officials identified an outbreak of acute hepatitis A. The increase in cases observed in Kentucky was well over the 10-year average of reported hepatitis A cases, and several cases have been infected with HAV strains genetically linked to outbreaks in both California and Utah.
Similar to hepatitis A outbreaks in other states, the primary risk factors remain homelessness and illicit drug use. A contaminated food source has not been identified, and HAV transmission is believed to be occurring through person-to-person contact.
Hepatitis A (HAV infection) is transmitted by the fecal-oral route (putting something in the mouth that has been contaminated with stool of a person infected with hepatitis A).
This transmission occurs through person-to-person contact or ingestion of contaminated food or water. On rare occasions, Hepatitis A is transmitted from transfusion of blood or blood products. Hepatitis is spread more easily in poor sanitary conditions or where good hygiene is not observed.
How Hepatitis A Can Be Prevented:
- Careful handwashing and good hygiene.
- Provide proper water treatment and distribution systems and sewage disposal.
- Vaccination against hepatitis A is recommended for persons at increased risk for HAV infection or its consequences:
- Persons with chronic liver disease or clotting factor disorders;
- Men who have sex with men;
- Injecting drug users;
- Persons traveling to countries where HAV is endemic;
- Persons who work with HAV infected primates or with HAV in research laboratory settings; and
- Children living in communities that have consistently elevated rates of hepatitis A.