A Hepatitis A outbreak in Kentucky has many people in the area on edge. Even though no local restaurants have been linked to this problem, the community is urged to be cautious.
Some Hopkins County residents are voicing their concerns about the Hepatitis A outbreak in their community, especially since the outbreak started nearly nine months ago.
“It does scare me,” says Dara Jones, concerned community member. “I mean you don’t know if you will walk into a place and then one day go to the doctor and they say, ‘Well hey you’ve been diagnosed with Hepatitis A.'”
The Mayor of Madisonville says the health department has it covered. He says the city teamed up with the health department to create a needle exchange program.
“Right now they have a good handle on it,” says Mayor Kevin Cotton. “They do have a grant that they have received to help them so especially through the needle exchange program so other than that they haven’t come to us with any additional needs.”
Mayor Cotton says right now the concern is focused on drug users and the homeless population. Although, Hepatitis A can spread when someone ingests the virus from food, drink, or an object.
“It’s not just the homeless, it’s everybody. It’s our community,” says Jones. “We all need to come together as a community and do something about it.”
According to the Hopkins County Health Department, there have been 61 cases this year. Nearly half of those cases have come from these past two and a half months.
44News hasn’t seen any posters or flyers hanging up in Madisonville warning people of the outbreak. However, Mayor Cotton says the existing restroom signage in some bathrooms does remind some people to wash their hands.
“Most restrooms that you go into, it specifically states the employees are required to wash their hands,” says Mayor Cotton.
Some community members say they are concerned for children who may forget to wash their hands. There is also a growing concern about elderly community members.
“Their immune system is not that built up anymore because they are older and age and it’s sad,” says Jones.
The Hopkins County Health Department is offering free vaccines to those who are considered to be at high risk. They are still encouraging everyone to wash their hands regularly and get vaccinated to stay protected.
You can learn more about this Hepatitis A outbreak here.