Hepatitis A is a contagious condition that is no laughing matter. Easily passed along by a person's mouth coming into contact with the infected cells of somebody else, it's a particularly infectious disease with a laundry list of symptoms. These include (but are not limited to): jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes), dark-colored urine, fatigue, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhea, and fever.
Hepatitis A is fortunately easily preventable thanks to existing vaccinations that have been around for some time. However, with the recent rise in parents electing not to vaccinate their children, the disease is one of many that has been making something of a notable comeback.
Case and point: the state of Kentucky recently experienced a substantial increase in the amount of children discovered to be infected with the disease. While a number of factors could be contributing to this, ultimately it's lead to some pretty decisive action on the part of the state.
Effective as of 2018, all children in the state of Kentucky have to be vaccinated for Hepatitis A before they enter kindergarten...
According to Buffalo Trace Health Department Director Allison Adams, the vaccination is a new requirement for all students before they begin kindergarten.
"The vaccination is required because it's a disease that is spread through poor hand hygiene," she said. "It can cause severe illness and, in some cases, death. The vaccine, like any other, can prevent the disease. It's for the protection of the students."
In November 2017, the Kentucky Department for Public Health declared an outbreak of acute hepatitis A, with cases in multiple Kentucky counties, including Mason County. In total, they discovered that 31 children were infected, which was a whopping 51% increase from the number of cases found the previous year.
With the next school year beginning on August 15th, the vaccine, which has to be given in two doses spread six months apart, now has to be given to children beginning no later than Feb. 15th. Only children who are given the vaccine by this point will be allowed into kindergarten at the start of the new school year.