What you need to know about Hepatitis A confirmed in Lexington school
A case of Hepatitis A has been confirmed at Lexington's Millcreek Elementary School, the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department announced Wednesday.
But because of medical privacy rules, health officials are not revealing whether a student or staff member has been infected. But the health commissioner indicated it occurred in a classroom.
Millcreek Principal Greg Ross told parents the school was scrubbed by Fayette County School District staff Tuesday night.
"This is the first case we have dealt with in any of our schools," district spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall said.
Fayette County Commissioner of Health Dr. Kraig Humbaugh said additional information will be provided to families "in the classroom where this occurred."
"The No. 1 way to prevent Hepatitis A is vaccination. (Parents) should check to see if their children have been vaccinated," he said. "That's what we're doing as well, to see who still may be susceptible in the classroom."
Beth Fisher, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Department for Public Health, said Wednesday there has been one other school-related confirmed case of Hepatitis A, that of a a school worker in Jefferson County.
Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by a virus, which hits adults the hardest, according to the health department. Symptoms include fatigue; sudden nausea and vomiting; abdominal pain or discomfort; loss of appetite; low-grade fever; dark urine; joint pain; yellowing of the skin and eyes; and intense itching.
People are at risk for the virus if they have been exposed to someone with it; have traveled to a country where the virus is common; have had sexual contact with an infected person; have used drugs; or have been homeless.
Humbaugh said the county has had three confirmed cases of Hepatitis A this year while multiple cases have occurred in an outbreak concentrated in Jefferson County. Multiple cases in restaurant workers and others also have occurred in other Kentucky counties, including Montgomery and Boyd.
Kentucky typically averages around 20 cases of Hepatitis A per year, but there have been more than 400 cases and three deaths since August, the state health department said previously.
There is a two-week window upon exposure for an individual to receive the Hepatitis A vaccine, the health department said.
School officials made arrangements for students to be able to get the vaccine at the Healthfirst Bluegrass clinic at Tates Creek Elementary School, which is about a mile from Millcreek, principal Ross said.
The health department will send more information home to families Thursday, Ross said. Students who have not turned in proof of a Hepatitis A vaccination and may have had contact with the infected person will receive additional recommendations, Ross said.
Kentucky's updated immunization requirements for the next school year include two doses of the Hepatitis A vaccine for all students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Families must show proof of having at least the first dose by the next school year, and ideally both, Humbaugh said.
"This vaccine has been available for quite some time and has been recommended for children since 2007," Humbaugh said. "It has shown to be safe. Of course, every vaccine or medicine has positives and negatives. But the benefits of this vaccine greatly outweigh any side effects."