Hepatitis A outbreak could last up to two years, Louisville doct - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Hepatitis A outbreak could last up to two years, Louisville doctor says

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -

Hepatitis A isn't about to leave Louisville anytime soon.

The local outbreak started six months ago, and doctors say it could take a year or two for numbers to taper off.

"I think there's an end in sight, it just might be farther off than we'd like," said Dr. Lori Caloia, Medical Director of Louisville Metro Public Health & Wellness.

On Tuesday, the latest hepatitis A count in Louisville was 356 cases.

"If we look at a two-year mark, that's another year and a half of this," Caloia said.

The virus is linked to a deadly outbreak in California, and in San Diego's hepatitis A outbreak, 20 people died and 400 were hospitalized.

"What caused (Kentucky) to declare the outbreak was when one of the (local) cases was linked to a San Diego case with the genotyping, it was close enough to their hepatitis A strain they had there," Caloia said.

Locally, Caloia hopes the outbreak could be reaching a plateau, but it will take some time to know when the outbreak is over.

"Even if we start to see a decline, it's still several cycles of the disease progression that we monitor, to see if the cases are truly going away or if we're just seeing a lull," she said.

Most of the cases still involve the homeless or drug users.

"We're still seeing a huge predominance of homeless and even more people who are using illicit drugs, that can be either injectable or non-injectable drugs," Caloia said.

However, no local cases are tied to food.

"We have not seen any cases of food borne transmission in the outbreak," Caloia said. "We're working on vaccinating a lot of food handlers because we want to keep it that way."

Health officials say the best way to prevent the virus is by getting vaccinated and always washing hands before handling food.

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