A possible hepatitis A-related death has been reported in a Louisville resident, Kentucky health authorities report.

Louisville map Image/ U.S. federal government
Louisville map
Image/ U.S. federal government

The individual had symptoms and laboratory test results that met the case definition for acute hepatitis A virus infection and also had additional health issues.

This is the first known death from acute hepatitis A in Kentucky since the hepatitis A outbreak began in 2017, and most outbreak cases have been reported from the Louisville Metro area. Specimens were sent for further laboratory testing to confirm if this case is associated with the outbreak.

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The multi-county outbreak of Hepatitis A remains ongoing with the Kentucky Department of Public Health (DPH) now reporting 150 cases to date. According to DPH, 124 of the cases were reported in Jefferson County. Outbreak-associated cases were also reported in Anderson, Boyd, Bullitt, Carter, Hopkins, Kenton, Leslie, Marion, McCracken, Russell, Spencer and Taylor counties.

DPH first reported the outbreak on Nov. 21, 2017. Similar to hepatitis A outbreaks in other states, the primary risk factors for Kentucky cases have been illicit drug use and homelessness. A single source of infection has not been identified and virus transmission is believed to be occurring through person-to-person contact. The 10-year average number of acute hepatitis A cases has been approximately 20 cases per year in the Commonwealth.

With DPH support, the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness has given more than 4,700 immunizations against hepatitis A at homeless shelters, homeless camps and at agencies, such as the Phoenix Health Center, that provide medical services for the homeless.  It has also been providing immunizations at its syringe exchange sites and in the Louisville Metro corrections facility to target drug users and prevent the spread of hepatitis A in the prison system.