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Health Department report shows six new cases of Hepatitis A locally in October

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Health officials were hoping to continue a downward trend, but new cases match same number as September

By Zac Oakes

 

As October comes to an end, statistics from the Lake Cumberland District Health Department show six new cases of Hepatitis A were discovered in Taylor County during the month of October. 

That matches the number of new cases from September and July locally, but is down from the peak of the outbreak in Taylor County in August, when 15 new cases were confirmed. 

Going back to Dec. 2017, Taylor County has now recorded 38 cases of Hepatitis A.

Lake Cumberland District Health Department Executive Director Shawn Crabtree said there is still work to be done in fighting against the spread of Hepatitis A in Taylor County.

“We aren't out of the woods yet in Taylor County,” Crabtree said. “August was the worst month for Taylor. The number of new cases dropped off for September. However, the downward trend didn't continue into October.” 

Although the number of new cases didn’t increase, Crabtree said health officials were hoping to see the trend continue downward. 

“What would have been positive would have been for it to still be trending downward,” Crabtree said. “We won't know until next month if the Hep A cases are rebounding or declining.”

Around the state, dating back to Aug. 2017, there have been 2,275 cases of Hepatitis A in Kentucky. 

The Lake Cumberland region has a total of 56 cases: 38 in Taylor, 7 in Pulaski, 5 in Casey, 2 in Adair, 3 in Green and 1 in Russell County.

Crabtree said there has also been an increase in Green and Casey counties, both of which border Taylor County, which is sounding some alarms at the health department.

“Of further concern, we see that some of the counties surrounding Taylor, Green and Casey, are now having increased HepA cases,” Crabtree said.

The majority of cases have been reported among those who use illicit drugs and/or are homeless, according to LCDHD officials. A contaminated food source has not been identified and transmission is believed to have occurred through person-to-person contact. Transmission of the virus occurs via oral contact with contaminated hands or objects.

Health officials locally and at the district level have undertaken several measures to bring awareness to Hepatitis A in Taylor County, mostly by encouraging residents to get their Hepatitis A vaccines. Health officials say that is the best way to combat its spread.

“We are still encouraging everyone to get the vaccine,” Crabtree said.

One other measure that has been taken by health officials is vaccinating inmates at jails and detention centers in the district. Dr. Christine Weyman, medical director for the Lake Cumberland District Health Department, said the health department has been involved with vaccinating approximately 200 inmates at the Taylor County Detention Center, although Weyman noted only a couple cases have been found at TCDC and both were “a couple months ago.” 

It is not too late to get the Hepatitis A vaccine. Vaccines are available at the local health department as well as most pharmacies and doctor offices.

For more information about Hepatitis A, visit the LCDHD website at www.lcdhd.org or call the office at 606-678-4761.