Barren River Health department recommends vaccines during hepatitis A outbreak

The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department reported the death Thursday in a news release, after its officials spoke with a family member who confirmed the May 23 death of a 33-year-old Kanawha County resident.

Officials say 629 hepatitis A cases have been reported statewide since August 1, 2017.

There are now 106 confirmed, probable, and suspected cases of the disease in West Virginia according to the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health. It is spread when a person ingests the virus from objects, food, or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool from an infected person.

Dr. Jeffrey Howard, Acting Commissioner of the state Department for Public Health, says Kentucky averages 20 cases of Hepatitis A a year, but the commonwealth has seen more than 600 cases since the outbreak started in the fall of 2017.

Mass vaccination clinics for hepatitis A are scheduled for today, May 25, 2018, and next week in the area.

In recent months, several workers at restaurants and groceries in Louisville have been diagnosed with hepatitis A, and a joint effort has been made by Public Health and Wellness and the University of Louisville's Global Health Center to reach people doing that type of work. Most of the cases in the hepatitis A outbreak that has plagued West Virginia have occurred in those counties.

Ray said hepatitis A isn't a chronic disease, but its symptoms can include weeks of fatigue and potentially fatal liver failure. The counties are Boyd, Bullitt, Carter, Greenup, Hardin, Jefferson, McCracken, Meade, Montgomery and Warren. One will be held May 25, 2018 at the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm. Hardest hit is Jefferson County, which includes Louisville. 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. But once symptoms appear, patients often initially report weakness, jaundice (yellowing of the skin), and abdominal pain.

  • Delores Daniels