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Hepatitis A Cases in Northern Kentucky Quadruple in Three Months

In August, the Northern Kentucky Health Department reported 50 cases of hepatitis A, a viral infection of the liver, across its 4-county service area. 

Since then, the number has climbed to more than 200 cases.

By comparison, in 2017, there were no reported cases of hepatitis A in Northern Kentucky.

“Hepatitis A infection can be prevented through vaccination and frequent, proper hand washing. Children, ages 1 through 18, are already required to be vaccinated against hepatitis A for school. With the outbreak occurring, we are strongly encouraging the vaccine for all adults. In this way, your entire family can have protection against this infection and help eliminate the spread of hepatitis A in Northern Kentucky,” said Dr. Lynne Saddler, District Director of Health at NKY Health.

The hepatitis A vaccine is given in two doses, six months apart. The first shot provides short-term protection and the second shot provides long-term protection. The vaccine is available at most doctors’ offices, pharmacies and retail clinics.

People with health insurance or Medicaid should be able to get the vaccine for free, but should check with their health insurance provider for coverage information, the health department said in a news release. NKY Health can also provide the vaccine at its county health centers to those who are on Medicaid and to those who do not have insurance, as well as those who have insurance that does not cover the vaccine. Health center locations and phone numbers can be found at here.

Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver that can cause loss of appetite, nausea, tiredness, fever, stomach pain, brown-colored urine and light-colored stools. Yellowing of the skin or eyes may also appear. People may have some or none of these symptoms. It could take up to seven weeks after being exposed to the virus for someone to become ill. The virus spreads when an infected person does not wash his/her hands adequately after using the toilet or engages in behaviors that increase risk of infection, such as drug use. Even if a person does not have outbreak risk factors, they may come in contact with someone who does. Any person who believes they may have symptoms of hepatitis A should contact their health care provider.

-Staff report