The largest hepatitis A outbreak in the nation continues to get larger as Kentucky health officials reported the updated outbreak case this past week.

Image/Robert Herriman
Image/Robert Herriman

With the 79 cases reported during the fourth week on 2019, the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) now puts the outbreak total at 3,919, since August 2017.

Kentucky hit the 3,000 outbreak case mark on Dec. 1, 2018.

Nearly half of this total required hospitalization for their illness and 25 deaths have been recorded with the addition of a new fatality this past week.

Eighty six of Kentucky’s counties have been affected.

Of those tested, nine out of 10 cases have been genotyped as genotype IB.

Jefferson County has reported the most cases with 647 confirmed, probable and suspect cases.

Like in other outbreaks reported across the country, illicit drug use and homelessness are the greatest risk factors for hepatitis A.

Hepatitis A is a viral infection transmitted from person-to-person through the fecal-oral route. This occurs as viral particles in feces from the infected person are ingested through contact with contaminated objects or through the ingestion of contaminated food or water.

Signs and symptoms of Hepatitis A infection include: fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dark urine, abdominal pain, clay-colored bowel movements, joint pain, and jaundice. Infections in children younger than 6 years of age are asymptomatic in 70% of cases while most older children and adults have symptoms.

The average incubation period of Hepatitis A virus is 28 days with a range of 15 to 50 days.

The best way to prevent Hepatitis A is by getting vaccinated.

Talking Hepatitis A with Dr Amesh Adalja