ABCs of hepatitis: What’s the difference between A, B, C?
Kentucky’s Department of Health is investigating two recent Hepatitis A related deaths in Franklin County.
The recent cases bring the total number of deaths in Kentucky to 16, the health department said. Both individuals had underlying medical conditions that contributed to the severity of their infections, according to the Franklin County Health Department.
Neither of the two individuals were employed in the food industry, the local health department said.
“These deaths are tragic and our hearts go out to their families,” said Judy Mattingly, Franklin County Health Department Director. “We highly encourage our community to receive their Hepatitis A vaccination and to practice good hand hygiene to help end the outbreak.”
Since August 2017, there have been more than 2,275 cases of Hepatitis A in the statewide outbreak. Twenty-eight of the cases have been reported in Franklin County, according to statistics from the state health department.
More than 1,200 of Kentucky’s Hepatitis A cases are associated with illicit drug use. An additional 200 have been associated with homelessness and illicit drug use, 40 cases have been associated with homelessness and more than 400 have had no outbreak-related risk factors, the Franklin County Health Department said.
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. It could take up to seven weeks after being exposed to the virus for someone to become ill.
Hepatitis A is spread when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool from an infected person, according to the Franklin County Health Department. Improper hand washing can lead to its spread from person to person.
Nearby Fayette and Madison counties have also urged residents to receive vaccinations after each have reported outbreaks. As of Oct. 23, there have been 29 reported Hepatitis A cases in Fayette County and 23 in Madison County, according to the state health department.
The Hepatitis A vaccination is given in two doses six months apart and is available from medical providers and many pharmacies.