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Kentuckians Urged To Get Hep-A Vaccine

National Institutes of Health
The state has seen more than 600 cases since the outbreak started in the fall of 2017.

Kentucky is dealing with a statewide outbreak of Hepatitis-A, which can lead to a potentially deadly liver infection. It's most often transmitted through fecal matter coming in contact with a person's mouth.

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

"There's currently research going on at the Centers for Disease Control as to why the disease is spreading to a greater degree now than it has in the past," he says, "and hopefully we'll have some answers in the near future."

Other states are coping with similar outbreaks. Hepatitis-A can be prevented with a vaccine. Starting in July, all Kentucky students in kindergarten through 12th grade must have the vaccine to attend school.

Health departments in 10 hardest-hit counties are receiving funding from the state Department for Public Health to cover the cost of 1,000 doses of the vaccine. Symptoms of Hep-A include weakness, abdominal pain, jaundice, and dark urine.

This story first appeared on WKYU. For more stories like this, visit wkyufm.org now