Kentucky's seen more than 600 cases of Hepatitis A and six deaths since November. The Northern Kentucky Health Department has verified only six cases locally, but it's taking steps to make sure a widespread outbreak does not occur in the area.
The department's Lynne Saddler says the homeless and illicit drugs users have a high risk of contracting hepatitis A.
"Hepatitis A is highly contagious and it's fairly easy to transmit from one person to another," she says. "When it gets a foothold in a population, it can really start to spread."
The health department is notifying health care providers, correctional facilities, food service establishments and organizations that serve the homeless about steps they can take to prevent the spread of infection, like disinfecting facilities and encouraging handwashing.
Hepatitis A is most often spread by coming into contact with small, unseen amounts of fecal matter from a contaminated person. Symptoms include fatigue, fever, headache, diarrhea, nausea, dark urine, pale stool, jaundice and abdominal pain.