Covington School Worker Diagnosed with Hepatitis A
A food service worker at John G. Carlisle Elementary School has been diagnosed with having hepatitis A.
The employee worked at the school while ill and/or infected with the illness from November 13 to December 3, the Northern Kentucky Health Department said Tuesday.
The school is investigating and has implemented disinfection steps within the cafeteria and restrooms to address surfaces that may have been contaminated.
Covington Independent Public Schools said in a statement that the school was thoroughly cleaned on Monday.
The Commonwealth of Kentucky requires that all students in kindergarten through twelfth grade be vaccinated for hepatitis A.
Staff who worked with the sick employee have been informed to be vaccinated immediately. Additionally, the Health Department has directed school employees to self-monitor for any symptoms of hepatitis A that may develop over the next 50 days.
Students and family members that have eaten food prepared by the cafeteria during this time period, and have not been fully vaccinated against hepatitis A, have been strongly encouraged to get the vaccine, too.
In order to be fully vaccinated you need to have 2 doses of the vaccine, six months apart.
Additionally, families have also been advised to monitor for symptoms over the next 50 days.
These measures have been recommended out of an abundance of caution for the children and families.
Since January 2018, 208 cases of hepatitis A have been reported in Northern Kentucky, and 2,865 have been reported in the state.
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. Hepatitis A usually spreads when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool from an infected person. 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.
Careful hand washing, including under the fingernails, with soap and water, along with vaccination, will prevent the spread of this disease.
Since Kentucky – including the Northern Kentucky region - is experiencing a hepatitis A outbreak, the Northern Kentucky Health Department is strongly encouraging Hepatitis A vaccination for the general public to protect against contracting the illness from any source of exposure. Handwashing remains the primary protection against many illnesses. Any person who believes they may have symptoms of Hep A should contact their health care provider.
Photo: John G. Carlisle School (RCN file)