Hepatitis A numbers continue to increase in Hopkins Co.

Hepatitis A numbers increasing in Hopkins Co.

Hopkins Co., Ky. (WFIE) - We have an update to the ongoing Hepatitis A outbreak in Hopkins County.

The health department reporting it they have had 61 total cases. That’s up from our last report of 36 in July.

Health officials confirm one of those cases, early in the outbreak, resulted in a death.

They say Hepatitis A doesn’t typically cause death, but things like advanced age or other illnesses are usually contributing factors.

“In July and August, we were still seeing the same amount of growth, but so far, in September, we’ve only had one case," says Denise Beach, Public Health Director. "So we’re feeling really hopeful that we are starting to get a hold of the outbreak in Hopkins County.”

Beach says they’re still working with other organizations to limit the spread.

This outbreak is linked to people who are homeless and sleep on couches. It’s also tied to drug use, including the use of marijuana (due to sharing).

Sometimes, some cases are linked to restaurants. But Beach says in Hopkins County so far there haven’t been any cases of the sort.

To keep it that way, the Health Department offered vaccinations and food handling classes to local food-service employees.

Brothers Bar-B-Que in Madisonville was one of the restaurants that had some of its workers participate in the vaccinations. The restaurant’s General Manager Kim Gipson says she got the shot, along with several of her employees.

“We had like eight or 10 people, adults to take it," says Gipson. "It’s very important to us to keep everybody update on that because its a very serious topic.”

Gipson says they also took advantage of food-handling classes.

Now, with the only one case reported in the month of September, Beach is hopeful this is the beginning of a slowing in Hepatitis A cases in Hopkins County.

The health department continues to offer free Hepatitis A vaccine to those who are considered “high-risk.”

According to a fact sheet the Hopkins County Health Department gave 14 News, “high-risk” individuals are considered: illicit drug users, people who are homeless, those who work, volunteer, or socialize with individuals who are homeless, participate in illicit drug use or have recently been imprisoned, and those who are sexual contacts of illicit drug users or the homeless.

Also according to the fact sheet, symptoms of Hepatitis A are fever, the yellowing of the skin or eyes, and dark pee, pale stool or diarrhea.

The health department continues to offer free Hepatitis A vaccine to those who are considered “high-risk.”

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