Medical professionals discuss risk of hepatitis A spreading during Kentucky Derby
Nearly 200,000 people are expected to attend the Kentucky Derby in less than two weeks, amid a hepatitis A outbreak.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Nearly 200,000 people are expected to attend the Kentucky Derby in less than two weeks, amid a hepatitis A outbreak. WDRB spoke with a medical expert about what you -- and any visitors -- should know about the virus.
At Metro Public Health and Wellness doctors said they're going above and beyond to stop the spread of hepatitis A.
"Certainly it's on the forefront of people's minds as they're going to these different events," said Dr. Lori Caloia, Medical Director at Metro Public Health and Wellness. "There's hep A out there, what do I need to be thinking about?"
However, Caloia said people's risk doesn't increase much at large events, like Derby.
"I think your risk is very low of getting hepatitis A here," she said. "We've actually gone above and beyond any CDC recommendation to vaccinate the people who are going to be working at Derby."
According to Caloia, that includes vaccinating 1,100 workers last week.
"Not because we think that risk is that much higher," she said, "but moreso just to offer people peace of mind and to lower people's risk overall."
It's a two-part vaccine, but total immunity isn't immediate.
"Within two to four weeks, people have antibodies after having that first vaccine," Caloia said. "Greater than 90 percent of people will have antibodies after that first vaccine."
As far as contracting hep-A, Caloia explains there are two high-risk groups.
"The likelihood of coming into town for a few days and being exposed to this virus is very low," she said. "We're still seeing the hep A virus primarily in people who use illicit drugs and people who are homeless."
And if you don't get the vaccine, make a point to wash your hands before eating and after using the restroom.
"Hand-washing at least 20 seconds with warm water and soap is necessary to remove the debris on the hands that might contain the virus," said Caloia.
Although some area restaurant workers have been diagnosed with hep-A, doctors said there haven't been any local cases of food workers spreading it.
You can get the vaccine at a doctor's office or pharmacy.
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