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Health officials urge caution as Hepatitis A concerns continue

The Kentucky Department of Public Health has counted more than 300 Hepatitis A cases - and one death - since the most recent outbreak began last fall.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - The Kentucky Department of Public Health has counted more than 300 Hepatitis A cases - and one death - since the most recent outbreak began last fall.

That includes 41 new cases in the first week of April, according to the DPH website. The bulk of the outbreak is in two major clusters: in far eastern Kentucky and around Louisville, experts said. Health officials are urging people in those counties to get vaccinated.

Despite the outbreak, the number of cases in Lexington has remained small. The Lexington-Fayette Co. Health Dept. said it has issued about 100 vaccines to high-risk groups, which include inmates, the homeless and drug users.

With major events in Louisville coming up health officials are concerned the outbreak there could spread. The city is installing more handwashing stations for Thunder Over Louisville this weekend, ahead of the Kentucky Derby in early May.

Indiana's state health department is warning Hoosiers about Kentucky's outbreak, urging anyone traveling to the state to get vaccinated.

Dr. Ryan Stanton, a Lexington emergency physician, said the state's outbreak is concerning, but people should not worry too much about it.

"Don't stay up at night or don't lose sleep over it, because the risks are still very low," Dr. Stanton said. "Still the most dangerous things we're going to do in the day is be in our bathroom and go driving in our cars."

Dr. Stanton said the Hepatitis A vaccination takes two shots, six months apart, for people to be fully immunized. He said a more immediate step is to be careful around places with salad bars and uncooked foods, clean your produce well, and, of course, wash your hands - especially after going to the bathroom and before preparing food.

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