A food service worker at the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital has been diagnosed with a confirmed case of Hepatitis A, UK officials announced Thursday.
The employee prepared food at the cafeteria, but was not involved in food preparation for hospital patients. A memo to UK employees said that anyone who ate in the Chandler Dining Room at Chandler Hospital Pavilion A between Oct. 11-30, including employees and visitors, may have been exposed and should get a Hepatits A vaccine as soon as possible.
There have not yet been any confirmed cases of Hepatitis A transmitted by food service workers in Fayette County, although last week, an employee at Frisch’s Big Boy on Harrodsburg Road was diagnosed with the virus.
In September, as the number of Hepatitis A cases in the region began to surge, the Lexington health department recommended that all Fayette County residents get Hepatitis A vaccinations.
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“The best way to prevent Hepatitis A is to get vaccinated,” Fayette Commissioner of Health Dr. Kraig Humbaugh said in September. “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.”
Statewide, officials have reported 2,410 Hepatitis A cases since August 2017, with 1,267 hospitalizations and 16 deaths. In Fayette County, there had been 35 cases reported as of Nov. 1, with no deaths.
People who are homeless, have been recently incarcerated or are intravenous drug users are at higher risk for the disease.
Lexington also has a higher rate of hospitalizations from the virus than the state average, but it’s not clear why.
UK will set up vaccination stations for UK HealthCare employees at Chandler Hospital Pavilion A, Floor 1, Room 01.123 and Good Samaritan Hospital, Conference Room A&B, during these dates and times: Thursday, Nov. 8, 2-8 p.m.; Friday, Nov. 9, 2-8 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 10, 4-8 p.m.; and Monday, Nov. 11, 2-8 p.m.
All food service workers at UK HealthCare will now be required to get the vaccine.
For more information about the issue, call (859) 257-1000.
Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that is usually spread when a person unknowingly eats or drinks something contaminated with the virus 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, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes).