40 dead in Kentucky Hepatitis A outbreak

Health News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – While the ongoing Hepatitis A outbreak has hit Ohio hard since it was declared by state health officials last June, Kentucky has been ravaged by the disease over the last two years.

Kentucky has the worst outbreak in the country. Over 4,000 people have been infected and 40 have died since January 2017. The Lexington Herald-Leader reports Boyd County in Kentucky began requiring vaccinations for food workers during the summer of 2018. 

The county isn’t taking chances -according to the New York Department of Health, only 2-3 percent of infections are through handling of food, with the majority linked to sex and drug use.

Ohio and its border states make up a cluster where the outbreak has hit hardest, but outbreaks have been reported across the country. A map on the CDC website shows 16 have declared official outbreaks, from California on the West Coast to Massachusetts.  

Ohio Department of Health declared an outbreak during the summer of 2018. As of Tuesday, the department posted on its website 1,746 cases have been reported. During the initial months of the outbreak, at least 68 percent of those infected had abused drugs or were homeless or both according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Sixteen states in total have declared outbreaks – these include California, Utah, New Mexico, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Florida, Tennessee, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Illinois. 

The biggest cluster of states in the country with outbreaks surround Ohio – Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky and West Virginia. Pennsylvania is the only border state that hasn’t declared an outbreak.  

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