Hepatitis A: Get vaccination, wash your hands for prevention

(Updated Dec. 10) Hepatitis A is a liver disease that can easily be passed from person to person and can be spread through close contact with someone infected with it. Washing your hands with soap and warm water after using the bathroom, changing a diaper or before making food and drinks can help stop the spread of hepatitis A.

The best prevention is with a hepatitis A vaccination. The hepatitis A vaccine, given in two doses six months apart, is available from some medical providers and many pharmacies in Lexington and is covered by most insurance plans. The vaccine is also available at the health department’s Public Health Clinic by appointment. Call 859-288-2483 to check availability and to schedule an appointment. You can learn more in our Hep A Q&A!

Starting in the 2018-19 school year, Kentucky students are required to have the vaccination. Please check with your medical provider to see if your child has been vaccinated.

Good handwashing can also help control the spread of hepatitis A. Consistent and careful handwashing, including under the fingernails, for at least 20 seconds with soap and water can help stop the spread of the virus.

You can learn more about hepatitis A in this interview from Healthy Times, our radio show on Lexington Community Radio: hepatitis A interview.

Hepatitis FAQs

What is hepatitis A and who is at highest risk?

  • Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection caused by a virus.
  • High-risk groups include:
    • People who have direct contact with someone who has hepatitis A
    • People who use illicit drugs in any way
    • People who are homeless
    • Men who have sex with men
    • People who travel to countries where hepatitis A is common
    • People with blood clotting factor disorders such as hemophilia

Is there an outbreak of hepatitis A in Lexington?

  • More than 3,020 cases have been reported across Kentucky since the fall of 2017, compared to around 20 cases that are typically recognized each year. There have been 19 deaths associated with hepatitis A in this outbreak.
  • Though the outbreak was initially centered in the Louisville area, outbreak-related cases have now been reported in 97 counties across the state, including Fayette. Learn more about which counties have hepatitis A in this Kentucky hepatitis A report.

How can you prevent getting hepatitis A?

  • Vaccination is the best method of preventing the hepatitis A virus. The hepatitis A vaccination is available as a 2-dose series. The hepatitis A vaccine is also available in combination with hepatitis B in a vaccine called Twinrix® (hepatitis A/hepatitis B) as a 3-dose series. Talk with your healthcare provider about which vaccine best meets your needs.
  • Always wash your hands, before eating and making food, and after using the restroom.

Information for Providers

  • The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department is urging providers to vaccinate all adult patients against hepatitis A, not just those in a high-risk category.
  • Consider providing Twinrix® to those who have previously not been vaccinated for hepatitis B.
  • Per Immunization Regulation 902 KAR 2:060, two doses of hepatitis A (HepA) vaccine will be required for all children aged 19 months through 18 years who attend daycare, primary and secondary school beginning on or after July 1, 2018 for the 2018‐2019 school year. Children aged 12 months through 18 months will require one dose of HepA vaccine. Providers should now catch‐up children aged two years and older to assure hepatitis A immunity.

Community Flyers

Click on a flyer below for a larger format to share:

Wash Your Hands

What You Should Know

High-Risk Groups

 

Protect your family this Thanksgiving with these tips!

As many prepare to share holiday meals with family and friends, the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department recommends these safe food handling tips. Foods that have been sitting out for too long can be sources of bacteria that can potentially cause foodborne illness, which affects an average of 76 million people each year. Be wary of any foods — hot or cold — that have been left out for more than two hours. This so-called “danger zone” when food is between 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 140 degrees allows bacteria to multiply. Any perishable foods should be discarded after remaining for two hours at room temperature.

The following food safety tips will allow you to prepare, serve and enjoy a safe holiday meal:

  • Wash hands – Wash hands for 20 seconds with soap and water following restroom use, before preparing foods, after handling raw meat and before eating.
  • Clean – Wash and sanitize food-contact surfaces often. To sanitize utensils, immerse for 30 seconds in clean, hot water at 170 degrees Fahrenheit, or immerse for at least one minute in a solution containing one teaspoon of 5.25 percent household bleach per gallon of water. Bacteria can spread and get onto cutting boards, knives and counter tops. Wash fruits and vegetables before preparing.
  • Thaw properly – Proper methods for thawing a turkey include thawing in a refrigerator with a temperature of 41 degrees Fahrenheit or less (allow 3-4 days for thawing); placing under cool running water at a temperature of 75 degrees Fahrenheit or less; or thawing in microwave and cooking the turkey immediately.
  • Take temperatures – Cook turkey at 325 degrees Fahrenheit until the internal temperature reaches at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Cooked, hot foods should be kept at 135 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer. Be sure to use a food thermometer to check temperatures.
  • Keep it cold – Cold foods should be kept at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or less. After the turkey is served, immediately slice and refrigerate on shallow platters. Use refrigerated turkey and stuffing within three to four days. Use gravy within one to two days. If freezing leftovers, use within two to six months for best quality.
  • Transport safely – Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
  • Reheat – Leftover turkey and stuffing should be stored separately in shallow dishes or platters. Rapidly reheat leftovers to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • When in doubt, throw it out – If you are unsure of how long a particular food item has been left out at room temperature, the best thing to do is discard the item.

The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department wishes you a safe and happy holiday. For more information about food safety, please contact the Division of Environmental Health and Protection at (859) 231-9791.

Hepatitis A and Thanksgiving

Protect your family and friends this Thanksgiving: don’t prepare food if you are sick! Kentucky is in the middle of the nation’s worst hepatitis A outbreak, and it can be spread through handling food when sick. Be sure you’re also washing your hands frequently (especially after using the bathroom), and talk to your pharmacist or medical provider about getting the hepatitis A vaccine. You can also call us at 859-288-2483 to make an appointment – no walk-ins will be accepted.

 

National Diabetes Month and World Diabetes Day

Each November is designated National Diabetes Month. It’s a time to bring attention to diabetes and its impact on millions of Americans. Here in Kentucky, 1 in 8 adults has diabetes, but many more have it and don’t know it. To learn if you or someone you know may be at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, take a simple 60-second, 7-question risk test here at the American Diabetes Association website.

You can also learn more in our Facebook Live broadcast!

November 14 is international World Diabetes Day. It’s the world’s largest diabetes awareness campaign reaching a global audience of over 1 billion people in more than 160 countries. The campaign draws attention to issues of importance to the diabetes world and keeps diabetes firmly in the public and political spotlight. Blue is the official color to bring awareness around the world on this day.

Click on the links below to find out more about some of our upcoming classes and support groups:

     

Don’t say ‘boo’ to these Halloween safety tips!

Halloween can be scary enough as is, so take steps to keep it from being even more frightening! Kids are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than on any other day of the year. Make it easier for drivers to see your kids by giving your child a flashlight or glow stick, and attach reflective tags or wristbands to their costumes! Learn more from the CDC!

You can also use these suggestions for healthier snacks/treats for your visitors!

Flu shots available in Public Health Clinic

Flu shots are now available in our Public Health Clinic!

The health department offers flu shots 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday through Thursday at its Public Health Clinic at 650 Newtown Pike. No appointment is necessary, and the cost for a flu shot is $30. A high-dose vaccine is available for $49 for ages 65 and older. Medicaid/Medicare, cash, checks, credit cards and most insurance plans are accepted.

“A seasonal flu shot is recommended to all people ages 6 months and older and is the best way to avoid getting the flu,” LFCHD spokesman Kevin Hall said. Last flu season, Lexington had 27 deaths from flu-related causes.

For additional information about the 2018-19 flu season, like the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter at and Instagram at @lexpublichealth. Flu information can also be found by calling the Public Health Clinic at 859-288-2483.

Annual free flu shot event returns Oct. 11, 2018

(Note: This event took place Oct. 11, 2018.) The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department is once again giving you the chance to fight the flu for free.

The department’s annual free flu shot event will be held 12-6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018, at the health department’s main location, 650 Newtown Pike. There is no advance registration — just show up Oct. 11 for your shot!

“An annual flu shot is the best way to fight the flu each fall and winter,” LFCHD spokesman Kevin Hall said. “The special clinic lets us test our emergency preparedness skills by giving a large amount of shots in a short amount of time. By holding it on our main health department building, we can better determine what works and what needs improvement on our home turf in the event of a true emergency.”

The seasonal flu shot is recommended for all people ages 6 months and older. Last year, Lexington had 27 deaths from flu-related causes and 744 confirmed cases. The health department provided 2,275 flu shots throughout the season, including 1,015 at last year’s free flu shot clinic.

“Lexington had 744 confirmed flu cases last year, but that represents a small fraction since most flu cases aren’t lab-confirmed,” Hall said. “The CDC estimates 5-20 percent of the U.S. population gets the flu each year, costing an estimated $10.4 billion in medical expenses and $16.3 billion in lost earnings.”

The health department stresses the importance of patience from patients at the free flu shot event Oct. 11. “It’s important for the public to be mindful of the parking lot, which we expect will be busy throughout the afternoon,” Hall said. “Keep an eye out for our staff members to help guide you where to park and how to enter and exit the building.”

Be sure to watch (and share!) this Facebook video about how you can be a real superhero by getting the flu shot!

For community members not able to get their flu shots at the special free event, the health department will offer flu shots 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday through Thursday in the Public Health Clinic, 650 Newtown Pike, starting Oct. 1. No appointment is necessary, and the cost for a regular flu shot is $30. A high-dose vaccine is available for $49 for ages 65 and older. Medicaid/Medicare, cash, checks, credit cards and most insurance plans are accepted.

LFCHD Community Farmers’ Market returns with grand opening June 13

Healthy food options will soon be a bit easier thanks to the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department and the city’s two farmers’ markets.

Starting June 13, the health department will bring farmers from the Bluegrass Farmers’ Market and the Lexington Farmers’ Market together to give the community a chance to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. The LFCHD Community Farmers’ Market will begin with a grand-opening celebration 8 a.m.-2 p.m. June 13 at the health department’s two Lexington locations: 650 Newtown Pike (main location) and 2433 Regency Road (south location).

The remaining farmers’ markets will alternate locations throughout the summer and into September:

  • 8 a.m.-2 p.m. June 20, 650 Newtown Pike
  • 8 a.m.-2 p.m. June 27, 2433 Regency Road
  • 8 a.m.-2 p.m. July 11, 650 Newtown Pike
  • 8 a.m.-2 p.m. July 18, 2433 Regency Road
  • 8 a.m.-2 p.m. July 25, 650 Newtown Pike
  • 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Aug. 1, 2433 Regency Road
  • 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Aug. 8, 650 Newtown Pike
  • 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Aug. 15, 2433 Regency Road
  • 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Aug. 22, 650 Newtown Pike
  • 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Aug. 29, 2433 Regency Road
  • 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Sept. 5, 650 Newtown Pike
  • 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Sept. 12, 2433 Regency Road
  • 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Sept. 19, 650 Newtown Pike
  • 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Sept. 26, 2433 Regency Road

“Public Health is about the prevention of diseases and the promotion of good health,” LFCHD spokesman Kevin Hall said. “By bringing both farmers’ markets together for our staff, clients and neighborhoods, we are able to give better access to fresh fruits and vegetables and help educate customers on how to use them to improve their diet. Our Community Farmers’ Market will let us continue to help Lexington be well.”

The 650 Newtown Pike location will offer a variety of items from 4-6 farmers, and the 2433 Regency Road location will feature 2-4 farmers. “Both sites are open to everyone, and we encourage Lexington residents to take part,” Hall said. “If you’ve never visited your health department, this is a good chance to see Public Health in action.”

For additional information, like the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LFCHD, or follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/LFCHD and Instagram at @lexpublichealth.

Safety tips will help during holiday and summer picnics

One out of every six people get sick from a foodborne illness each year, and a few extra precautions can help keep your summer meals, cookouts and picnics illness-free this year.

The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department wants to increase awareness of food safety as people head into the summer picnic season. The following food safety guidelines can help you prevent the spread of food-borne illness from picnic meals shared with family and friends:

  • Keep hands clean. Wash hands before eating or preparing food, after using the restroom, between handling raw and ready-to-eat items and after handling pets. Wash with hot soapy water and dry with paper towels.
  • Clean and sanitize surfaces often. To sanitize surfaces, use a solution of regular household bleach and warm water. Add about 1 tablespoon of bleach to 2 gallons of water for the right concentration. Sanitize by first washing and rinsing the surface and then immerse, spray or swab with the bleach solution.
  • Separate – don’t cross-contaminate. Separate raw foods from ready-to-eat foods. Use different cutting boards or wash, rinse and sanitize after contact with raw meat, poultry and seafood. Never use the same plate for holding raw meat and transporting cooked meat.
  • Be sure to wash all produce thoroughly before use. Thoroughly clean the outer surface before slicing and keep work surface and utensils clean and sanitized. Handle all cut melons carefully, including cantaloupe and watermelon. Promptly refrigerate sliced melon at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
  • Follow the cooking guidelines listed below for proper meat preparation. Cook food to the proper internal temperature. Always check the internal temperature of cooked foods with a metal-stemmed thermometer and cook another 15 seconds after the thermometer indicates it has reached the proper temperature.

 Ground beef: 160 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 seconds

Poultry and stuffed meats: 165 degrees F for 15 seconds

Pork products: 150 degrees F for 15 seconds

Other products: 140 degrees F for 15 seconds

Reheating leftovers: 165 degrees F for 15 seconds

  • Refrigerate leftovers promptly. Leftovers should be cooled and maintained within two hours at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or lower or frozen at zero degrees or lower. When you are unsure how long leftover food has been out of proper serving temperature, a good rule of thumb to follow is “when in doubt, throw it out!”

Health department to hold annual rabies clinic May 10 at Castlewood Park

Lexington pet owners can get a low-cost rabies shot at a new location this year.

The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department’s annual Rabies Vaccination Clinic will be held 6-9 p.m. Thursday, May 10, at Castlewood Park, 201 Castlewood Drive. Vaccinations will cost just $3. All cats must be in a carrier, and all dogs must be on leashes. In the event of inclement weather, the clinic date is subject to change. The health department will provide updated information at www.lexingtonhealthdepartment.org and on its Twitter account at twitter.com/LFCHD.

Rabies, a viral disease of humans, pets and wild animals, is transmitted from animals to humans by the saliva of a rabid animal, usually from a bite. Rabies vaccinations typically cost about $20, making this clinic a great value to pet owners. “A rabies shot gives protection to the pet as well as its owner and the other people of Lexington, said Luke Mathis, LFCHD Environmental Health team leader and one of the event’s organizers. “We’re pleased to provide this useful public health service as we help Lexington be well.”


State law requires that all dogs, cats and ferrets maintain a current rabies vaccination. The health department gave 345 rabies shots during the May 2017 clinic. The LFCHD Rabies Control Program received 740 animal bite reports last year, with LFCHD staff making sure each animal was up to date on all rabies vaccination shots.

The clinic also provides pet owners with the opportunity to purchase an animal license for $8 if the animal has been spayed or neutered. A license costs $40 if the animal has not been fixed or the owner has no proof of alteration. Lexington-Fayette Animal Care and Control, the Lexington Humane Society, the Lexington-Fayette County Division of Parks and Recreation Department, Gainesway Small Animal Clinic and MedVet Medical and Cancer Center for Pets are also sponsoring the clinic.

For more information on the annual Rabies Clinic, call the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department’s Division of Environmental Health at (859) 231-9791. Be sure to like the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LFCHD, and follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/LFCHD and Instagram at @lexpublichealth.

LFCHD, community partners reveal city’s health assessment and improvement plan

Every five years, the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department (LFCHD) in partnership with the Lexington Community Health Improvement Partnership (LEX-CHIP) engages the community in a health assessment and planning process for the purpose of improving health in the Lexington-Fayette County community.

This document has been created to share the process and results of the Community Health Assessment (CHA) and to address the priority issues it identified. Goals, objectives, and strategies for each of the priority issues are outlined in this document. The purpose of the plan is to detail how community partners will collectively and collaboratively work together to improve the health and well-being of our community.

Through the development of the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP), an overarching theme arose. The theme “Rise Up Lex” was born. It is the hope of LEXCHIP that this theme will become a motto for both LEXCHIP and the community of Lexington. From this theme, the action teams LexBeWell, LexWork, and LexBeSafe were formed. The groups strive to focus on the vision that Lexington will be a community that is safe and healthy for all.

The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department, in partnership with the Lexington Community Health Improvement Partnership (LEX-CHIP), is proud to share the document here: Community Health Assessment and Improvement Plan.

The document takes a look at current health trends through multiple sets of lenses. It uses the information to inform decision-making for community engagement and partnerships to improve the overall health of the community.