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Ashland-Boyd County Health Department investigating Hepatitis A case

Food worker from Ken’s Express Mart

ASHLAND— A new case involving the diagnosis of Hepatitis A in a food preparation worker at Ken’s Express Mart on 29th Street in Ashland is currently being investigated by the Ashland-Boyd County Health Department.

The single employee prepared food at the location’s fresh-food counter during the infectious period, with a window of possible exposure from March 22 through April 7. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it can take up to 50 days from exposure to Hepatitis A for symptoms to develop.

“Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable, communicable disease of the liver caused by the Hepatitis A virus (HAV). It is usually transmitted person-to-person through the fecal-oral route or consumption of contaminated food or water. Hepatitis A is a self-limited disease that does not result in chronic infection,” the CDC states. “Most adults with Hepatitis A have symptoms, including fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, and jaundice, that usually resolve within two months of infection; most children less than 6 years of age do not have symptoms or have an unrecognized infection. Antibodies produced in response to Hepatitis A infection last for life and protect against reinfection. The best way to prevent Hepatitis A is to get vaccinated.”

A two-week window for an exposed individual to receive a vaccine is needed. A vaccine for the disease given more than 14 days after known exposure may not be effective in preventing it due to recent exposure.

The last date for post-exposure vaccine related to this announcement is Thursday, April 19. In addition, individuals in the community who wish to prevent Hepatitis A disease from a future exposure should be immunized as a preventative measure.

Anyone who is experiencing symptoms should contact their physician or seek other medical attention immediately.

Cases involving other food workers with Hepatitis A in Boyd County also occurred earlier this year.

Anyone with a possible exposure and not experiencing symptoms is encouraged to receive a Hepatitis A post-exposure vaccine from their local health care provider. Most insurance plans will pay for the Hepatitis A vaccine. Some local pharmacies, such as the Ironton City Health Department, have the vaccines available for privately insured or Medicaid patients.

The Lawrence County Health Department and the Ironton City Health Department, through the Adult Vaccine Program, have Hepatitis A vaccines available for the uninsured. For more information, call 740-532-3962.

The Ashland-Boyd County Health Department also has vaccines available due to Boyd County’s outbreak status. For more information, call 606-324-7181.