HOPKINS CO., Ky. (WFIE) - Health officials in the county say they are dealing with an outbreak of Hepatitis A.
Health Department officials tell us Kentucky is No. 1 in the nation right now in Hepatitis A cases. Officials say they usually see a handful of cases, but they’ve seen 36 in Hopkins County.
This outbreak is particularly related to drug use, including the use of Marijuana, and some homeless who sleep on friends couches.
Denise Beach, Public Health Director of the Hopkins County Health Department, says Hepatitis A is vaccine preventable. A vaccine the Hopkins County Health Department is giving for free to “at-risk” people.
“There’s a series of two injections, one immediately and it confers about 85 percent immunity, so we need to get out of there and get that first injection going," says Beach. "And then you take a booster six months after that, so were trying to get out into those high risk areas and immunize people.”
Those high risk areas include homeless shelters and jails, and the Hopkins County Jail is no exception. The Hopkins County Heath Department has been to the jail several times to immunize inmates and staff not once but several times, due to their high turnover rate.
Jailer Mike Lewis says they educate new inmates about the situation.
“Any time that we can do to help the staff or the inmate population have a healthier life, for anyone, we’re going to do it," says Lewis.
The Hopkins County Health Department is also doing a needle exchange on Wednesdays from 2-4 p.m. Because this outbreak is specifically related to drug use, those who participate in the exchange can get a free Hepatitis A vaccine.