E. Coli and Hep A outbreaks hitting Kentucky the hardest 

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Outbreaks of E-Coli and Hepatitis A are quickly spreading across the nation, and Kentucky is taking the biggest hit.

During the most recent outbreak, Kentucky has seen the highest number of E. coli and Hep A cases in the country. So far Hep A has taken 52 lives in the state, and there have been 46 reported cases of E. coli.

Hep A has been spotted in 17 states, and E. coli in five.  Medical professionals in Bowling Green want the public to know how they can protect themselves from falling victim to the illnesses.

“Hepatitis A and E. Coli, especially the E. Coli outbreak that we’re having now, are mostly transmitted though improper or not adequate hand washing after people using the bathroom, specifically bowel movements,” said Dr. Chase Beliles, at Graves Gilbert Clinic.

In addition to keeping your hands clean, vaccination can protect against Hepatitis. The deadly Hep A outbreak has now hit 104 of Kentucky’s 120 counties.

“Some places that have well water drinking systems, you can have very strong outbreaks because the well water is contaminated. In the very rural areas that’s possible,” Beliles said.

At the Bowling Green Municipal Utilities Water Treatment Plant, a lot of work goes into making sure that E. Coli and Hep A stay out of the water.

“When we have a lot of rain, like we had in February when we had 13 inches of rain, that water washing into the river can sometimes carry bacteria from sources such as farms or other areas. So, when that bacteria comes in there, it’s coming in at various levels. We have to treat it in stages as it goes through our plant,” said Doug Kimbler, superintendent of Treatment Plants, at Bowling Green Municipal Utilities Water Treatment Plant.

Both E-Coli and Hep A can be contracted by ingesting contaminated water.

“We use chlorine to sterilize the water. All the water that goes through our system is going to be processed with that, so we can assure the public that there will be no issues with bacteria in drinking water,” said Kimbler.

In a statement released this afternoon, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said they that they are working to determine if contaminated ground beef is behind the E. coli outbreak.