UK recommends vaccinations after UK employee reported to have Hepatitis A


Pavilion A

Sydney Momeyer

A UK food service employee has been diagnosed with Hepatitis A.

The employee worked inside the Albert B. Chandler Hospital on UK’s campus. The cafeteria is located in Pavilion A of the hospital. The employee is currently off work until they are cleared by health care professionals to return.

While the employee participated in food preparation for the cafeteria, they did not participate in food preparation for inpatients of the hospital.

All employees and visitors of the hospital that ate in the cafeteria are being advised to get a Hepatitis A vaccination if they ate there from the dates of Oct. 11 to Oct. 30 as they may have been exposed to the virus.

Hepatitis A is currently a large issue in Kentucky, and is spread through eating contaminated food or water, or engaging in close contact with a person who has the virus. It is a virus that infects the liver and can cause fever and jaundice, among other symptoms.

“The concern and big things to lookout for would be fatigue, myalgias, fever and something called jaundice which is the yellowing of the skin,” Medical Director for Infection Prevention and Control Derek Forster said. “Those could all be symptoms of Hepatitis A, along with some abdominal pain and nausea.”

In Lexington, hospitalization rates are higher for Hepatitis A than the rest of the state.

“We have seen 74 percent of our cases be hospitalized where in the rest of the state it is much lower than that,” Fayette County Health Department’s Community Health Officer Jessica Cobb said. “I think it is an excellent opportunity to remind people of the seriousness of the illness and how bad it can be. With that rate of hospitalization we do want to recommend people seek the vaccination as it can prevent people from coming down with this disease.”

According to Kentucky’s Cabinet of Health and Family Services, Kentucky has seen 2,410 reports of the outbreak as of Oct. 27, 2018, with 1,267 hospitalizations and 16 deaths.

Since the beginning of November of 2018, there have been 16 cases reported in Fayette County, including this case. There were 15 total in October.

In November 2017, the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) identified an outbreak of acute hepatitis A,” the Cabinet’s website states.

The best way to avoid the virus is to receive a vaccine.

“This could potentially be around in the community for a little while,” Cobb said. “That’s why we are recommending that everybody seek a Hepatitis A vaccination if they have not already had one.”

There are various places in Lexington offering the vaccine due to the prevalence of the virus at the time. Places such CVS, Walgreens, Walmart and UK’s Health Clinic are all offering the vaccine. According to Medicare Interactive, most vaccines and immunizations are covered under Medicare Part D.

There is currently a special clinic at UK offering the vaccine running until Monday, Nov. 12 everyday except Sunday. It is set up in Pavilion A of the Chandler Hospital in room 123, and also in conference rooms A and B of Good Samaritan Hospital. The times run from 2 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Monday, and 4 to 8 p.m. on Saturday. There is no cost to receive the vaccination through these special clinics.

“If someone has been exposed or eaten in our cafeteria in that time frame they can get a vaccination at most pharmacies,” Enterprise Director of Infection Prevention & Control and Patient Safety Kimberly Blanton said. “[Most pharmacies] offer it, most insurances that we are aware of are covering it. They can also get it at their primary care physician and their local health department can be a very good support system for that.”

Outside of the clinics, University Health Services offers the vaccine to students and employees.

For any questions regarding the Hepatitis A, there is a hotline available at 859-257-1000.