The virus can lead to a potentially deadly liver infection. He said it's unknown how the disease was contracted because health officials had not interviewed the victim. It is usually transmitted person-to-person or by consuming contaminated food or water.
The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) is requesting that the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department provide hepatitis A vaccination clinics for restaurant and food service employees in those counties.
Most of Kentucky's cases have occurred in Jefferson County, which has had almost 400 cases despite efforts by Public Health and Wellness and its community partners to vaccinate thousands of people in the community.
Ray said five cases being reported in a single county is cause for concern.
Eight food establishments in Kanawha, Putnam, and Cabell counties have had a food service worker diagnosed with hepatitis A. No customers of those establishments have been diagnosed with the illness.
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Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus.
The number of Hepatitis A cases in Kentucky has exploded this year, increasing from approximately 20 reported cases to 629 cases already reported this year. Those counties include Boyd, Bullitt, Carter, Greenup, Hardin, Jefferson, McCracken, Meade, Montgomery and Warren.
The disease spreads through traces of fecal matter of infected people making contact with another person's mouth, Ray said. "We hope to have a lot more people", said John Law, public information specialist for the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department. All children under 19 years who do not have private insurance coverage for vaccines, including uninsured and TennCare-eligible children, may be vaccinated through the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program by their health care provider or at any local health department.
Symptoms include fatigue, fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, clay-colored stools and yellowing of the eyes and skin.
After exposure, symptoms can occur within two weeks up to 50 days.