Health officials combating hepatitis A outbreak in Whitley County

WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. (WYMT) –  A new report from the Cabinet of Health and Family Services shows an increasing number of hepatitis A cases in Kentucky. Whitley County is ranked fourth in the number of cases per county in the state. Workers at the Whitley County Health Department say they have seen this outbreak and are working hard to combat it.

“We have seen a lot of people come in and get vaccinated,” said Tamara Phelps, a nursing supervisor at the health department. “Especially our school children because it’s mandatory now and we have seen a lot of adults because they hear hepatitis A is in the community and they want to be protected.”

The report shows that Whitley County has 64 confirmed cases of hepatitis A. Jefferson County has the highest at 599 cases followed by Boyd County at 158 and Carter County at 121.

“We should start to see the numbers come back down,” said Martha Steele, the public health director for the county.

Steele said workers at the department have been doing all they can to help vaccinate people who are more at risk for the disease, in hopes of stopping the spread.

“They have vaccinated the people in the detention center, we’re working with them at the homeless shelter,” said Steele.

Workers at the health department said avoiding the outbreak is not hard to do. Simply getting vaccinated and washing your hands for more than 15 seconds with soap can stop the spread of the disease.