State Health Commissioner Talks About Hepatitis A In Facebook Live

Posted at 3:37 PM, May 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-24 15:37:37-04

(LEX 18) State health officials said only about 20 cases of Hepatitis A are reported in Kentucky per year, but this year, they’ve already seen more than 600. 

In a Facebook Live Thursday morning, the Commissioner of Public Health wanted to inform and reassure Kentuckians on the topic of Hepatitis A, especially since several cases around the state involved restaurant employees. 

"I know a lot of folks worry, ‘if I go eat out somewhere, am I at risk?’ What I would like to say to you is that we have had zero cases related to a food worker," said Dr. Jeffrey Howard, the Kentucky Public Health Commissioner.

He said the virus in this outbreak is spreading through contaminated environments. That’s why the state recommends anyone in an outbreak get vaccinated, as well as those who have risk factors for the disease. 

"So if you have substance abuse disorder, if you are part of the homeless population, we have mechanisms to get you the vaccine. We also recommend folks that are exposed to those populations, health care workers, if you work in a church or a ministry or any volunteer organization that serves those populations, you should be vaccinated as well," said Dr. Howard.

Ten counties in the state are considered to be experiencing a Hepatitis A outbreak, meaning they have at least five cases. Dr. Howard made an announcement Thursday morning on how the state plans to help those areas. 

"We’re going to buy 10,000 vaccinations, 1,000 per county, and give them to the local health departments, or give funding to the local health department for them to get those vaccines out to their community and this is one of the first steps in helping aid those communities in their local responses," he said. 

A seventh food worker was diagnosed with Hepatitis A in Boyd County Thursday. This time it was at a McDonald’s in Ashland. Health Officials said the likelihood of customers contract the disease is low. 

You can watch the Facebook live below: