Kentucky Health Officials Issue Hep A Alert

Apr 20, 2018

Magnified image of the Hep A virus.
Credit CDC.Gov

There is now a Hepatitis A outbreak in Jefferson and five surrounding counties in Kentucky. 

The state now recommends that people in Jefferson, Hardin, Bullitt, Greenup, Carter and Boyd counties be vacinnated.

Transmitted mostly through fecal matter Hepatitis A can live outside the body for extended periods of time making it a higher risk for transmission.  How might be spread between different counties and why was there a travel advisory issued by Indiana last week.

Hardin County, health officials first saw people with cases of Hepatitis A in December and January. Five people from Jefferson County developed symptoms while in drug rehabilitation facilities or jails in Hardin County. That’s according to Donny Gill, the public information officer with the Lincoln Trail District Health Department. 

“Initially we were seeing mostly Jefferson County in our jail and drug treatment facilities and they were coming up positive. Since then we’ve had 9 Hardin County residents become affected by hep. a . So we’re trying to get out in front of this before it kind of spins out of control. 
Laurie Caloia with Louisville’s Health Department says they are offering free immunizations in the jail and in substance abuse treatment facilities. But she said the family and friends of people battling with addiction should also get vaccinated. 
Last week the Indiana State Department of Health put out a travel advisory for Indiana residents who plan on traveling to Kentucky, advising them to get vaccinated. Cajoy said more cases are being confirmed in southern Indiana. 

State officials on Friday issued an unusual statement declaring travel to Louisville and the Derby safe despite a Hepatitis A outbreak.

So far there have been 352 cases resulting in 246 hospital stays and three deaths. Health officials are urging all Jefferson County resident to get a Hep A vaccine.

Residents of five other counties with Hep A cases are also being urged to get vaccinated. Those counties are Hardin, Greenup, Carter and Boyd. The vaccine is not recommended for infants under the age of one.

For more information about Hep A check out the CDC.

Mary Meehan contributed to this report.