Two Hepatitis A deaths reported in Frankfort

Two Hepatitis A deaths reported in Frankfort
The hepatitis A vaccine. The best way to prevent hepatitis A is to get vaccinated, health officials say. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) - The Hepatitis A outbreak in Kentucky continues to claim lives.

Two people in Frankfort have died due to Hepatitis A. Both individuals had underlying medical conditions that contributed to the severity of their hepatitis A infections, the Franklin County Health Department said in a press release.

Contact investigations have not revealed that either individual was employed in the food service industry.

As of October 20, 2018 Franklin County has experienced 28 total cases of hepatitis A related to the larger statewide and national hepatitis A outbreak. These are the first two deaths in Franklin County. Kentucky has reported a total of 2,275 cases from 94 Kentucky counties with 14 total deaths in the state, which is less than 1% of the cases. There have been 1,209 hepatitis A hospitalizations in Kentucky.

Primary risk factors for this hepatitis A outbreak continue to be illicit drug use and homelessness. Other identified risk factors include recent imprisonment and volunteering or socializing with drug using, homeless or recently imprisoned populations. A contaminated food source has not been identified, and hepatitis A transmission is believed to have occurred through person-to-person contact.

In Kentucky specifically, 40 cases have been associated with homelessness; 1,209 cases have been associated with illicit drug use; 213 cases have been associated with both homelessness and illicit drug use; and 405 cases have had no outbreak-related risk factors.

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.

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