Hepatitis A cases up 50% in Kentucky this year

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Kentucky health officials say they are seeing a dramatic rise in Hepatitis A cases compared to previous years. The Kentucky Department of Public Health says they have 31 reported cases of 'acute' Hepatitis A this year; that's a 50% increase over the yearly average of 20 cases.

The department has declared an outbreak of the virus. The cases are spread throughout several Kentucky counties including Fayette County.

Dr. Katrina Hood works for Pediatric & Adolescent Associates. She says Hepatitis A is a lot different than Hepatitis B or C.

"So, for most young people, especially toddlers, you might not even really think about it. They may have a tummy ache. They may have a couple episodes of some vomiting or diarrhea, but it may not be something you'd necessarily come to the doctor for," Dr. Hood said. "Only if a child gets a more severe case, which is very rare, those children will be very uncomfortable because it can infect the liver."

Hood says that hand washing is critical because the virus is spread hand to mouth. She also says a vaccine can prevent children from getting infected with the virus.

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