Hepatitis A: Get vaccination, wash your hands for prevention

(Updated March 18, 2019) 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.

More than 4,336 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 44 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 104 counties across the state, including Fayette. Learn more about which counties have hepatitis A in this Kentucky hepatitis A report.

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

Please check out our new page with frequently asked questions about hepatitis A: hepatitis A FAQs.

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

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Wash Your Hands

What You Should Know

High-Risk Groups

 

Pertussis cases confirmed in Lexington

New cases of pertussis are being confirmed in Lexington schools, and the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department continues to work with Fayette County Public Schools to make parents aware of the threat of pertussis.

Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory illness spread by coughing and sneezing. It affects people of all ages but can be most serious in infants and those with chronic diseases.

The health department is recommending preventive antibiotics for high-risk students who were exposed to pertussis. This includes students with a chronic illness or weakened immune system and those who live in households with the following: a family member with a chronic illness or weakened immune system, an infant or a pregnant woman.

Any school-age children with symptoms of pertussis should stay home from school and visit their health care provider for evaluation, even if they have previously been vaccinated. If found to have probable or confirmed pertussis, they should remain out of school until completion of their antibiotics. For more information about pertussis, call 859-288-2437.

The early symptoms are similar to a common cold: runny nose, sneezing, low-grade fever and coughing. After 1-2 weeks, the cough often gets worse, changing from a dry, hacking cough to bursts of uncontrollable, sometimes violent, coughing. During a coughing episode, it might be temporarily impossible to take a breath because of the intensity and repetition of the coughs. When finally able to breathe, the person might take a sudden gasp of air, which can cause a “whooping” sound. Vomiting and exhaustion can often follow a coughing spell.

The vaccine against pertussis is routine and required for school-age kids. One dose of the booster vaccine, called Tdap, is recommended for ages 11 and above for protection. Teenagers and adults who have never received the Tdap vaccine should check with their primary care provider or call the health department at 859-288-2483 to check availability. Although the vaccine is effective, immunity tends to decrease over time, making the booster important for older children and adults.

Be sure to like the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

LFCHD seeking Dr. Rice C. Leach Public Health Hero nominations

It is time to nominate people for the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department’s Dr. Rice C. Leach Public Health Hero Award. The award, now in its 16th year, is for individuals who have demonstrated their dedication to improving the health of Lexington residents.

Criteria for the selection of the award include:

  • Exemplary leadership and diligence in promoting public health;
  • Remarkable contributions and support in fostering public health programs; and
  • Work or actions that have impacted the community’s health in a positive way.

The Lexington-Fayette County Board of Health renamed the award in 2016 in honor of the late Dr. Rice C. Leach “so future generations will know what a true public health super hero is.” Leach, who served as Lexington’s Commissioner of Health for five years, died in April 2016 following a battle with cancer.

Past winners include Dr. Svetla Slavova (2018), Kentucky State Sen. Reginald Thomas (2017), Dr. Leach (2016), Dr. Susan Pollack and Marian F. Guinn (2015), the Rev. Willis Polk and Baby Health Service (2014), Anita Courtney and Teens Against Tobacco Use (2013); Vickie Blevins-Booth and Jay McChord (2012); Jill Chenault-Wilson and Dr. Malkanthie McCormick (2011); Dr. Jay Perman (2010); the Lexington Lions Club (2009); Dr. David Stevens and the late Dr. Doane Fischer (2008); Dr. Ellen Hahn, Mary Alice Pratt and Therese Moseley (2007); Dr. Andrew Moore and Rosa Martin (2006); Jan Brucato and Dragana Zaimovic (2005); and Dr. John Michael Moore, Ellen Parks and Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government (2004). Dr. Robert Lam received a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.

If you know of someone, please provide the following information:

  • Name, professional title and organization;
  • Phone number and e-mail address of nominee; and
  • Examples of why the person is worthy of the award. Descriptions should be no more than 200 words.
  • Your name and contact information

Nominations can be submitted here: Dr. Rice C. Leach Public Health Hero nomination.

The deadline for submitting candidates is 4 p.m., Thursday, Feb.28.

The Lexington-Fayette County Board of Health will make the final determination. The winner will receive special recognition from the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government. The awards are given each April as part of National Public Health Week.

Health department offers safety tips as temperature dips

During the cold weather, stay indoors whenever possible. However, if you must go outside, dress warmly in layered clothing, including a hat, scarf or knit mask to cover your face and mouth, sleeves that are snug at the wrist, mittens, a water-resistant coat and water-resistant boots. Avoid exertion, as cold weather puts an extra strain on the heart. People with heart disease or high blood pressure should follow their doctor’s advice about shoveling snow or performing other activities in the snow. When outside, avoid walking on ice, and keep your steps and walkways as free of ice as possible.

Be on the lookout for signs of hypothermia and frostbite, two common cold weather-related health problems. Warning signs of hypothermia, which is abnormally low body temperature, include shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech and drowsiness. If you detect symptoms of hypothermia, seek medical care immediately. Get the victim into a warm room and remove any wet clothing. Warm the center of the body first with an electric blanket, if available. Otherwise, use skin-to-skin contact under loose, dry layers of blankets, clothes, towels or sheets. Warm beverages can help increase the body temperature, but do not use alcoholic beverages.

Warning signs for frostbite, or an injury to the body caused by freezing, include redness or pain in any skin area, white or grayish-yellow skin, skin that feels unusually firm or waxy and numbness. If you detect symptoms of frostbite, seek medical care immediately. Get the victim into a warm room, and immerse the affected area in warm – not hot – water. Do not rub the frostbitten area with snow or massage it, as this can cause more damage. Do not use a heating pad, heat lamp or the heat of a stove, fireplace or radiator for warming, as the frostbitten areas are numb and can be easily burned.

These procedures are not substitutes for medical care, and all emergencies should be reported to a physician or health care provider. To learn more about winter weather tips, visit the CDC’s website.

2019: A New Year, A New You!

Start 2019 with better health! Let our experts help you eat better, exercise more, stop smoking and more! Call us at 859-288-2446 to learn how to be a healthier you in 2019. We have several FREE classes coming up in 2019, so check out our calendar on the home page for all the ways we can help you this year! You can learn more here: Community Health Equity and Education.

We also encourage you to engage with us on social media:

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.

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!

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.