LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Employees of the Louisville Metro Public Health Department fanned out across the city Wednesday scrambling to stop the spread of Hepatitis A, a gastrointestinal virus that mainly hits homeless populations.

The state of Kentucky reported cases in 10 counties last month, including Jefferson, Shelby, Bullitt, Hardin and Henry Counties. 

"Typically in a given year, we see one or two cases of Hep A," said Dr. Lori Caloia, Medical Director with Louisville Metro Public Health and Wellness. "So far, we have seen ... 42 confirmed cases."

And Caloia said there could be more cases. So the department sent this reminder to area soup kitchens and homeless shelters Wednesday to know the warning signs and shore up sanitation.

"It can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever and just make people feel bad in general," Caloia said. "It's a viral infection, and it's spread through what's called the fecal oral route, so contaminated food. But primarily, the big thing is lack of hand-washing, lack of proper sanitation ... things can get easily contaminated."

One of the shelters visited is Wayside Christian Mission, where Programs Manager Mark Miller said it serves 2,000 meals a day. And while he doesn't know of any Hep A cases at the shelter, he said the staff is always on alert to safeguard their residents and the community.

"We make sure our people are ... wearing gloves, wearing their hairnets, washing their hands regularly..." Miller said.

Health officials said another tell tale sign of Hepatitis A is jaundice. Workers will be back at Wayside on Thursday, Sunday and several days next week to give out Hep A vaccines.

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