shot needle 300MADISONVILLE, Ky. (9/1819) — Hopkins County Health Department is offering free hepatitis A vaccines 9 a.m.-noon Monday at the Madisonville Probation and Parole Office, 13. S. Main St.

Kentucky ranks first among several states included in the virus outbreak, according, and hepatitis A numbers are on the rise in Hopkins County.

Kentucky Probation and Parole Officer Jimmy Davis said no questions will be asked, and shots are available to everyone older than 18 on Monday.

Hopkins County Health Department lists this week the county currently has 61 cases of hep A.

“There is a hepatitis A outbreak in Kentucky, and it is currently in Hopkins County,” Denise Beach, RN and Public Health Director stated.

The virus is mainly being spread by homelessness and shared drug use, Beach explained, and there is also risk to those in close personal contact or working with the individuals involved in “high-risk” behaviors. “The current outbreak is not associated with restaurant workers, although it can be transmitted by restaurant workers not using good hand washing.”

According to the CDC, hep A is a highly contagious liver infection that can last a few weeks to several months that is spread through contact of undetectable small amounts of human feces on objects, food and drinks from infected individuals.

In rare cases, hep A can cause liver failure or death, more commonly in people over 50 or those with other liver diseases, according to health officials.

CDC statistics currently show Kentucky reports the highest number of hep A cases in the U.S. at 4,892, involving 61 deaths since the onset of the Sept. 1, 2017 outbreak. Groups at risk include drug users, the homeless or those with unstable housing, those recently incarcerated or people with chronic liver diseases consisting of cirrhosis, hep B or hep C. One dose of the vaccine is shown to be 95 percent effective in healthy individuals for up to 11 years.

HCHD encourages individuals to visit the local health department for a free vaccine or see a medical provider.

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