© 2023 Cincinnati Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

NKY Officials Say Hepatitis A Outbreak Is Over

Experts say the most effective way to prevent the spread of the disease is hand-washing.

The Northern Kentucky Health Department is declaring the year-long hepatitis A outbreak over.

The viral infection spreads when people ingest the virus from objects, food or drinks.

Last August, four Northern Kentucky restaurants had workers that tested positive with the infection.

Northern Kentucky Health District Director Health Lynne Saddler says the most vulnerable populations are people experiencing homelessness and people who use drugs. "We worked very hard with our county jails to go in on a regular basis and vaccinate people," she says. "We vaccinated over 4,600 people."

The Northern Kentucky health department says there have been zero new cases in the past four months. Saddler says this is because of local partnerships with pharmacies and homeless shelters.

"We really doubled down on our cleaning and (the) hygiene aspect of it," Executive Director of the Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky Kim Webb says.

The department hasn't seen a new case since July. "This one we waited a little bit longer just to make sure things were quiet around the state and we weren't going to see another flare up."

Previous reporting found that since 2017, Kentucky has had 4,100 cases of hepatitis A and 43 related deaths. In March, Kentucky lawmakers advanced a bill to study the state's response to the outbreak.

Northern Kentucky has had over 300 documented cases since the outbreak started in August of 2018.

The hepatitis A vaccination is required to attend school in Kentucky. Saddler says even though the outbreak is over, adults should still get their shots.