A Clinical Advisory has been communicated by the Department of Public Health that Kentucky is experiencing a Hepatitis A (HEPA) outbreak in the Louisville area and multiple surrounding counties, with risk factors including the homeless populations or those that use illicit drugs.
Different regions of the U.S. have experienced outbreaks in recent months caused by bacteria and viruses. Some of these events have approached epidemic levels, while others have been relatively small in scale.
Working in health care, it is essential we remain aware of all public health concerns and stay vigilant on following through on all precautionary measures. One way to stay informed is to keep up-to-date on all your LEARN modules.
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HEPA is highly contagious and is usually transmitted by the fecal-oral route, either through person-to-person contact or consumption of contaminated food or water.
Other than age-appropriate vaccinations, the best way to keep from getting HEPA is to always wash your hands before touching or eating food. When soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers. Surfaces that are frequently touched should also be cleaned and sanitized. Cook food fully and when uncooked, handle appropriately.
Symptoms of HEPA include jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes), dark-colored urine, fatigue, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea and fever.
As we treat patients that seek care in our facilities, be aware of the symptoms of Hepatitis A. During this winter season, it is a good reminder to practice good hand hygiene and other prevention tactics to reduce exposure to HEPA and other illnesses.