While the number of newly reported Hepatitis A cases has decreased very slightly in the past months, the Lake Cumberland District Health Department (LCDHD) is asking the public to stay vigilant in doing their part to prevent the spread of the disease.
As of June 6, LCDHD reported that Pulaski has seen 91 cases of the disease.
In the most recent information, the county has seen a total of one new case so far in the month of June.
In comparison, the total number of new cases in May for Pulaski was 13, 18 cases in April, and 19 cases in March.
LCDHD posted on Facebook Wednesday updated guidelines and strategies to prevent the spread of Hep A.
Those strategies include the basics, such as washing hand with soap and water.
“It is not clear if alcohol-based hand rubs are effective against hepatitis A virus. For this reason, food handlers, daycare providers, travelers, and anyone else who is at risk of transmitting or becoming infected with hepatitis A is advised to wash their hands with soap and water when possible,” LCDHD said. “Alcohol-based hand rubs are a reasonable alternative if a sink is not available.”
It also reminds everyone to wash their hands after changing a diaper or touching any soiled item.
Other food-based precautions include: Not drinking unpasteurized milk (often called “raw milk”) or eat any foods that contain unpasteurized milk; washing raw fruits and vegetables before eating; keeping raw meat, fish, and poultry separate from other food; thoroughly cooking all meat, fish and eggs; and refrigerating all foods promptly.
LCDHD also reminded the public that Hepatitis vaccinations are available from health care providers. The vaccine is excellent in preventing the disease, and the most common side effect from the vaccine is redness or discomfort at the injection site.
According to LCDHD, Hepatitis A “is a viral infection of the liver that can cause loss of appetite, nausea, tiredness, fever, stomach pain, brown colored urine, and light-colored stools. Yellowing of the skin or eyes may also appear. People can become ill up to 7 weeks after being exposed to the virus.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most people who contract the illness feel ill for several weeks but experience no lasting liver damage. In very rare cases, it can cause liver failure and death. Severe symptoms are more common in people over 50 years of age or who have a preexisting liver condition.
The virus is spread by an infected person who has not properly washed his or her hands after using the toilet or through close personal contact with an infected person, such as sexual intercourse or caring for an ill person. A person can contract the virus when they ingest contaminated food or drink that contains a small, undetected amount of stool from an infected person.
The disease can also be contracted through illicit drug use.