LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) – The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department is now recommending hepatitis A vaccination for everyone in the community as the number of cases in the region and throughout the state continues to climb.
Lexington now has 24 cases related to the statewide outbreak, which is up to more than 1,850 across Kentucky with 89 counties affected. There have been 14 deaths associated with the outbreak, and 56 percent of the cases involved hospitalization.
In September, Lexington had 13 confirmed cases in the statewide outbreak, a significant growth from the previous months.
“The best way to prevent hepatitis A is to get vaccinated,” said Commissioner of Health Dr. Kraig Humbaugh. “The vaccine is effective and has an excellent track record. However, most adults have not yet been immunized since the vaccine was not given routinely as part of their childhood schedule of shots.” It is now required for all children who attend school or child care in Kentucky.
The hepatitis A vaccine is given in two doses six months apart and is available from some medical providers and many pharmacies in Lexington and is covered by most insurance plans.
The vaccine is also available at the health department’s Public Health Clinic by appointment. Call 859-288-2483 to check availability and to schedule an appointment.
Good handwashing can also help control the spread of hepatitis A. Consistent and careful handwashing, including under the fingernails, for at least 20 seconds with soap and water can help stop the spread of the virus.
Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that is usually spread when a person unknowingly eats or drinks something contaminated by small amounts of stool from an infected person. Washing your hands with soap and warm water after using the bathroom, changing a diaper or before making food and drinks can help stop the spread of hepatitis A.
Symptoms of hepatitis A are fatigue, decreased appetite, stomach pain, nausea, darkened urine, pale stools and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes). Anyone experiencing symptoms should seek medical attention. People may have some or none of these symptoms. People can become ill 15-50 days after being exposed to the virus. Someone sick with hepatitis A is most likely to spread the virus during the 2 weeks before feeling sick and for 1 week after yellow eyes and skin start. Children often do not exhibit symptoms. Although rare, death can occur from this infection.