Death toll in Kentucky's hepatitis A outbreak reaches 44

A hepatitis A outbreak in Kentucky has led to 44 deaths, according to the Kentucky Department for Public Health.

The agency identified the outbreak in November 2017, and thus far, there have been 4,288 people infected and 2,065 hospitalizations. The state has determined that illicit drug use and homelessness are the main risk factors for contracting hepatitis A. Officials also believe transmission is occurring via person-to-person contact.

In the week ended March 2, 21 counties reported new cases of hepatitis A, bringing the total number of new cases reported that week to 34.

On March 1, Kentucky's Cabinet for Health and Family Services announced it would support a legislative resolution that called for an investigation into the state's response to the outbreak. The announcement came after a Feb. 21 Courier Journal article showed gaps in the public health response.

The cabinet noted in a press release that it "took exception to a series of newspaper reports from the Courier Journal, which highlighted the negative, while ignoring many of the positive, aspects of the state's response."

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