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Another outbreak of ‘Hep A’ results in new warnings

As Kentucky continues to battle the worst Hepatitis A epidemic in the nation, public health officials are warning of another disease outbreak and offering some commonsense tips to avoid spreading or contracting the illness.

The Kentucky Department for Public Health announced recently that 20 Kentuckians have tested positive with a strain of E. coli O103. While public health investigators have not yet identified the source of the outbreak, they believe some sort of food distribution is the likely cause for the spread of the life-threatening bacteria.

The reported cases involve a number of children as well as adults. No deaths linked to the outbreak have been reported but six people have been hospitalized.

“Symptoms of E. coli O103 illness typically include stomach cramps and diarrhea, including bloody diarrhea, and people generally become ill two to five days after consuming contaminated food,” according to a press release from DPH. “E. coli O103 disease sometimes leads to hemolytic-uremic syndrome, a serious complication that can cause kidney failure and can occur a week or more after the onset of diarrhea. Those most at risk of developing complications from E. coli infection include the very young, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems .”

The public can help prevent E. coli infections by:

— Washing hands frequently for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water, especially before eating,after going to the bathroom,handling raw meat and eggs, and after handling or petting animals;

— Thoroughly washing produce before eating;

— Thoroughly cooking meat;

— Cleaning and sanitizing food preparation areas;

— Avoiding swallowing lake or pool water;

— Drinking only pasteurized milk;

— Frequently cleaning and sanitizing restrooms, including door knobs and faucets; and

— Reporting diarrheal illnesses to your physician.

These are commonsense tips that should be applied across the board to prevent the spread of illnesses that can be harmful or even fatal.

Good hygiene practices go a long way and can offer protection from some of the nasty illnesses that are spreading across the Commonwealth right now.

— The Winchester Sun

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