Death suspected from West Virginia hepatitis A outbreak

There is a Hepatitis A outbreak in Nashville     14 cases confirmed since December

State health officials say a 33-year-old died Wednesday.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most people who get hepatitis A feel sick for several weeks, but they usually recover with no lasting liver damage. He said it's unknown how the disease was contracted because health officials had not interviewed the victim.

Statewide, there have been 106 confirmed, probable, and suspected cases of Hepatitis A. The illness caused by this virus can be prevented with a vaccination, of either the hepatitis A or immune globulin shot.

To combat the spread of the contagious liver illness, the state public health department plans to deliver an additional 1,000 doses of the vaccine for uninsured and low-income residents in each of the ten counties witnessing the sharpest increases.

As Kentucky continues to battle an outbreak of acute hepatitis A, the state Department for Public Health is spending about $340,000 to provide 10 counties, including Jefferson, with a total of 10,000 doses of vaccine, according to the department. The outbreak in Kentucky is genetically linked to other hepatitis A outbreaks in California, Utah and MI, she said.

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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.

Of the 121 cases in all of West Virginia, most have been in Putnam County and Kanawha County.

Earlier this week, similar vaccination clinics were held for Kanawha County employees, first responders and others at the Kanawha County Emergency Ambulance Authority. Those counties include Boyd, Bullitt, Carter, Greenup, Hardin, Jefferson, McCracken, Meade, Montgomery and Warren.

While most of the attention has been focused on food workers in the Louisville area who contracted the disease, Dr. Howard says there have been no cases linked to food contamination. Persons unsure whether they need the vaccine should contact their local health department or medical professional.

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