An employee at Owsley County High School was recently diagnosed with the Hepatitis A virus, but the case is considered low risk because the employee did not handle food, officials said.
Superintendent Tim Bobrowski released details about the case Monday night on the district’s Facebook page.
“A suspected case of the illness was reported in an employee at (Owsley County High School) with minimal student contact and thus a very low likelihood of transmission” was reported by the Owsley County Health Department over Thanksgiving break, Bobrowski wrote.
“The case was not confirmed until 7 days later thus creating a delay in notification” to people in the school district, the post stated.
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Facilities were thoroughly cleaned as recommended by the Center for Disease Control, Bobrowski said in the post.
Tuesday morning he said that this is the only case that has occurred so far in the school district. Under the federal health information confidentiality law, Bobrowski could not identify the employee, who had been successfully treated, he said.
He reminded parents that all public school students in Kentucky are required by law to have the Hepatitis A vaccine.
As of Nov. 24, there have been 2,865 cases of Hepatitis A statewide since Aug. 1, 2017, according to the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services. That includes 1476 hospitalizations and 18 deaths.
There have only been two confirmed cases of Hepatitis A in Owsley County, but none that were considered high risk — meaning that the individuals did not work in food service, said Scott Lockard, Public Health Director at the Kentucky River District Health Department at Hazard.
Symptoms of Hepatitis A include fever, fatigue, appetite loss, nausea, abdominal pain and dark urine. Symptoms of the infection can start appearing four weeks after exposure, but they can occur anywhere between two and seven weeks after exposure.
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 health department. Improper hand washing can lead to its spread from person to person.
Bobrowski said that schools in his district have initiated a hand washing campaign.
The Hepatitis A vaccination is given in two doses six months apart and is available from medical providers and pharmacies.