Health Experts Talk About Hepatitis A Risk In Local Jails

Posted at 3:35 PM, Jul 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-31 15:35:05-04

(LEX 18) Health leaders will spend the next few months keeping a close eye on the spread of Hepatitis A in Kentucky, especially in local jails.

Doug Thoroughman, a Kentucky State Epidemiologist, tells LEX 18 that they are seeing the number of Hepatitis A cases in Louisville going down, but everywhere else in Kentucky, that’s not the case.

"The bad news is a lot of cases were exported out of Louisville to other counties through jail transfers, through substance abuse program transfers, things like that," said Thoroughman.

On Tuesday, state health leaders met to discuss ways to prevent the spread of Hepatitis A. 

So far, there hasn’t been a major outbreak in any of the local jails, but because many drug users end up in jail, not knowing they have the disease, the Center for Disease Control is keeping an eye on local jails.

"Hepatitis A, unfortunately, has a very long incubation period. It’s 15 to 50 days. So you can have someone that’s infected who doesn’t get sick for a while. They can be in jail when they finally get sick and then you have that situation where you can get rapid spread within a jail population or prison population," said Thoroughman. 

Health experts think that we’ll likely see more outbreaks in the next few months. They recommend that people get the Hepatitis A vaccine, especially those at risk for the disease.