FLORENCE, Ky. — Vaccinations are encouraged for all residents in Northern Kentucky. The number of hepatitis A cases has nearly quadrupled from about 50 cases in August, to more than 200 cases as of Nov. 29.
The Northern Kentucky Health Department said the increase in the region is part of a larger statewide outbreak announced earlier this year . The most recent report includes two deaths. There were no cases of hepatitis A reported by Northern Kentucky residents this time last year, the health department said.
The District Director of Health at NKY Health, Dr. Lynne Saddler, said the infection can be prevented through vaccination and frequent hand washing. School children are already required to be vaccinated. Saddler recommends vaccinations for everyone.
“In this way, your entire family can have protection against this infection and help eliminate the spread of hepatitis A in Northern Kentucky,” she said in a written statement.
The vaccine is available at most medical offices and pharmacies. It’s given in two doses, six months apart for short and long-term protection. NKY Health can provide the vaccine to people on Medicaid or those who don’t have insurance. Find a health center location by clicking here .
Symptoms of hepatitis A include:
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach pain
- Brown-colored urine
- Light-colored stools
- Yellowing of the skin or eyes
According to NKY Health, the virus spreads when an infected person does not properly wash their hands after going to the bathroom.