Update: Floyd County health officials hope to prevent hepatitis A outbreak

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FLOYD CO., Ky. (WYMT) - Hepatitis A has made its way to Floyd County.

Officials with the Floyd County Health Department confirmed four cases at a news conference Wednesday.

They say none of the sick people pose an immediate risk to others. All immediate family members of the diagnosed individuals were vaccinated.

Officials say investigations were inconclusive as to whether the four people were connected to the food industry.

Although parts of the state have seen an outbreak in Hepatitis A cases city, county and health officials in Floyd County say that will not be the case here. Prestonsburg Mayor Les Stapleton says they are being proactive about the issue and are now working hand-in-hand with those in the food service industry to try an prevent such an outbreak.

"First thing I wanna make it real clear is we don't have an outbreak yet. We are trying to get in front of it," Stapleton explained. "We are going to eliminate the opportunity for there to be an outbreak."

Dozens of restaurant owners and managers met with health officials Wednesday to discuss ways to prevent the spread of the disease.

Officials are implementing a program where they will go to a restaurant in the area and vaccinate every worker employed there. Once this is done, the restaurant will display a sticker in the front informing customers that the employees have been vaccinated.

"Restaurant owners are all for this," said Stapleton. "They think it's a great idea. That someone can physically see that the restaurant owners are doing their due diligence to keep it clean and keep it safe."

With four Hepatitis A cases in Floyd County Thursa Sloan, Floyd County Health Department Director, says vaccinations are the best way to prevent more cases.

"When the CDC tells you that vaccination is the best way to prevent an outbreak then I think you have to use that. When they are the official guru of this thing I think you have to use their recommendation," said Sloan.

Restaurants are not the only businesses seeking vaccinations.

"We have had, since December, different businesses that weren't restaurants contact us that have vaccinated their employees," said Sloan.

One such business, Riverview Healthcare, says everyone has to do their part to prevent an outbreak.

"We have a controlled environment you know...in that we're mainly of course just providing for our elders. But we do also have visitors who come in and want to eat with their family members so we take it very seriously," said Riverview Healthcare CEO, Missy Allen.

Officials would like to reiterate there is no Hepatitis A outbreak in Floyd County. In fact, that is exactly what they are trying to prevent from happening.

Click here for more information about hepatitis A.

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