UPDATE: Kentucky hepatitis A outbreak now the worst in the country
The hepatitis A outbreak in Louisville and other parts of Kentucky is now the worst in the country.
The Courier Journal reports state health officials confirmed Wednesday at least 969 people have contracted the liver disease. State Public Health department Commissioner Dr. Jeff Howard says the outbreak is the worst on record across the nation and in Kentucky.
Three of the outbreak's six deaths were in Louisville. Louisville Metro Public Health department spokesman Dave Langdon says officials confirmed 482 cases.
The virus was first detected in Louisville last fall and can be spread through contact with surfaces, food or drinks contaminated by feces from an infected person.
The disease mostly affects drug users and homeless people, and officials are working to get funding for vaccines and coordinate with local agencies.
There are more than 600 cases of hepatitis A in Kentucky according to the Kentucky Department for Public Health.
Health officials tell WSAZ that there are 629 cases of the disease among 41 counties.
There have been six deaths related to the outbreak and 401 hospitalizations.
The number of cases in our area are as follows:
"The [statewide] increase in cases observed in Kentucky was well over the 10-year average of reported hepatitis A cases," health officials stated.
There are 10 counties set to receive funding for the Hep A vaccine because they have four or more cases: Boyd, Bullitt, Carter, Greenup, Hardin, Jefferson, McCracken, Meade, Montgomery, and Warren.
Each of those counties will receiving funding for 1,000 doses of the vaccine.
State health officials say the outbreak of acute hepatitis A began in Nov. 2017. Several of the Kentucky cases include strains of the Hep A virus that are linked to outbreaks in California, Utah, and Michigan.
There are similar hepatitis A outbreaks in other states including West Virginia.
Health officials say the main risk factors are homelessness and illicit drug use.
The number of cases of hepatitis A is climbing in Kentucky.
The Kentucky Department for Public Health has released the latest number of reported cases.
As of April 28, 448 people in Kentucky had been diagnosed with the virus.
315 people had been sent to the hospital with hepatitis A.
4 people have died from the virus so far.
There were 43 new cases reported in Kentucky from April 22 to the 28.
The Kentucky Department for Public Health says it has received 400 suspected hepatitis A cases since it identified an outbreak in November.
Out of the 400 cases, more than 100 are confirmed, and most of the cases are from the Louisville metropolitan area. Northeastern Kentucky has also seen a large number of cases.
Health officials say this outbreak is well over the 10-year average Kentucky sees.
The primary risk factors are homelessness and drug use. Health experts say signs and symptoms of Hepatitis A include jaundice, dark-colored urine, fatigue, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhea and fever.
Kentucky has seen three deaths as a result of the hepatitis A outbreak.