An outbreak of Hepatitis A has officials in one Kentucky county concerned.
But now, Hopkins County health officials are getting some extra help in fighting back, from an unexpected source with the state.
Kentucky’s Department of Corrections is reaching out beyond the bars.
Those with the Probation and Parole office in Madisonville say while inmates released from custody are at high risk for catching hepatitis, the disease impacts the whole community.
Offering vaccines against Hepatitis A is nothing new for the parole office:
“Originally when we started this program working with the Hopkins County Health we offered it to offenders on probation or parole. It didn’t get quite the response we were hoping for so we’re opening it up to anyone that comes in,” explained James Davis with the Probation and Parole division.
That expansion comes amid an outbreak of the disease in the county: 61 cases this year, and nearly half of those cases have come from these past two and a half months.
But while Kentucky health officials cite illicit drug users, the homeless population, and the recently imprisoned as at the highest risk:
“It can really affect anybody of any walk of life, because there are a number of ways it can be transmitted. Try to get the outbreak under control as best we can,” Davis said.
Hepatitis A infects the liver. It can cause vomiting and nausea, and poses a more serious risk than other strains.
“You know you’ve heard of Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C. It is the most infectious of the three, because it can be food borne and any contact with bodily fluid,” cited public health nurse Erica Engle.
The degree to which it’s spread through the county means that the parole office wants to do their part to help stop it, for free to the public.
“No questions asked. They don’t necessarily need to have health insurance or anything like that. They can come in and say they want the vaccine,” said Davis
Hopkins County Health will offer the vaccines at the parole office on Monday September 23, with the hope for additional days based on the success of this first round.