Officials In Northern Kentucky, Somerset Urge Hep A Vaccinations

Dec 4, 2018

Health officials are urging people to get vaccinated against hepatitis A.
Credit Mary Meehan

The hepatitis A vaccine is being recommended for anyone who recently ate at a Pulaski County fast food restaurant. An employee of Zaxby’s in Somerset was diagnosed with the viral liver infection over the weekend.

The Lake Cumberland District Health Department is urging those who ate there between November 9th and 30th to get the vaccine as a precaution. The health department’s Preparedness Manager, Amy Tomlinson, says the employee was likely exposed in the community.

"We have a statewide hepatitis A outbreak going on, and there have been several cases from our district, as well. There's no indication it was from the restaurant or any kind of food-related item."

Tomlinson says there is minimal risk in contracting hep A from the restaurant. None of the cases from the ongoing statewide outbreak have been linked to food establishments. A statement from Zaxby’s says its Somerset restaurant was thoroughly sanitized over the weekend and the hep-A vaccine is now required as a condition of employment.

Symptoms of hepatitis A can mimic the flu, and in rare cases, cause liver failure and death. The virus is spread through improper handwashing and close personal contact.

Currently, there are about 2,900 hep A cases confirmed in Kentucky. About half of those patients have been admitted to the hospital. The state has detailed 18 deaths so far related to the widespread hepatitis A outbreak.

Northern Kentucky Health officials announced this week that they are encouraging all adults in Boone, Grant, Kenton and Campbell counties to get vaccinated as numbers continue to rise in that region. According to the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Kentucky typically sees about 20 cases of hepatitis each year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.