Desperate Health Officials Try to Tamp Down Hepatitis Outbreak in City

City offers hep A vaccine subsidies to foodservice workers

(FOOD SAFETY NEWS) Nearly 200 cases of hepatitis A have been reported one mid-America city since November 2017, so local health officials are offering $25 vaccines to restaurant and foodservice workers in an attempt to curb the outbreak.

The initiative was launched this week by the in Louisville, KY Department of Public Health and Wellness in partnership with the University of Louisville’s Global Health Center, according to radio station WFPL.

Public Health and Wellness spokesman Dave Langdon said the department is subsidizing the vaccines with its own funds and donations.

A single hepatitis A vaccine usually costs about $65, he said. This program is designed to encourage employers to help pay for vaccinations en masse to get as many foodservice and restaurant workers as possible vaccinated.

Nationwide, more than 1,200 people have been sickened by hepatitis A and more than 40 people have died. The outbreak is concentrated in less than 10 states, with California and Michigan the hardest hit.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the first injection of the two-dose hepatitis A vaccine provides 94 percent protection for two to five years. The second dose given six months later provides 99 percent protection for 20 to 25 years.

People can also dramatically reduce their risk of contracting Hepatitis A by washing their hands frequently and thoroughly, especially after using the restroom, changing diapers, and eating, serving or preparing food.

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that, unlike other forms of Hepatitis, does not usually result in chronic infection. It is caused by a virus and can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months with life-long consequences.

Hepatitis A symptoms include fatigue, nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea and yellowing of the skin and eyes. Read the full story at Food Safety News. 

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