Disease Prevention & Control
Infectious Diseases & Outbreaks
Use of intravenous drugs significantly increases the risk of contracting hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV. Northern Kentucky has seen dramatic increases in hepatitis B and C case rates, with many cases being associated with IV drug use.
Infectious Disease Manual
This manual is a resource for Northern Kentucky child care provides on issues related to communicable diseases.
While much of the information is targeted toward the child care provider, the manual can be useful to the general public.
The manual was created in 2005, updated in April 2015, and again in September 2023.
Diseases by type
Guidelines and Resources
In child care settings: Contact the Health Department’s Child Care Health Consultant Susan Guthier at Susan.Guthier@nkyhealth.org or 859-363-2090.
In other settings: Contact the Health Department’s Epidemiology staff at 859-363-2070.
Hepatitis B is a contagious liver disease. It can be result in a mild illness that lasts several weeks (acute hepatitis B) or a serious, lifelong illness (chronic hepatitis B). It is preventable through a vaccine.
In 2015, there were 22 cases of acute hepatitis B in Northern Kentucky, a rate of 5.37 per 100,000 population. In comparison, the state case rate is 3.7 per 100,000 and the national rate is 1.1 per 100,000 (state and national rates are based on preliminary numbers). Local cases of hepatitis B doubled from 2006 to 2013, and 50% of those with hepatitis B who were contacted by the Health Department admitted to IV drug use as a risk factor for the infection.
What is hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Hepatitis C can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness. It can be described as “acute,” meaning a new infection, or “chronic,” meaning lifelong infection.
HCV is spread by contact with infected blood. Today, most people become infected with HCV by sharing needles or other equipment to prepare or inject drugs. People born from 1945–1965, sometimes referred to as “baby boomers,” are also at risk.
Many people with hepatitis C do not have symptoms and do not know they are infected. If symptoms do occur, they could include fatigue, fever, nausea, decreased appetite, muscle or joint pain, dark urine, grey-colored stool, and yellow skin and eyes.
Hepatitis C can cause serious liver damage, including cirrhosis and liver cancer. It is the number one reason for liver transplants in the United States. Liver damage from hepatitis C can be prevented by early diagnosis and timely access to care and treatment. Unlike hepatitis A and B, there is no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C; however, hepatitis C can be cured and treated!
Testing and treatment for hepatitis C
NKY Health has a new program that provides free testing, as well as referrals for those who need treatment. For a free hepatitis C test, call to make an appointment at your county health center.
Schedule your hepatitis C test online*
To schedule an appointment at the Boone County Health Center, please request an appointment here.
To schedule an appointment at the Kenton County Health Center, please request an appointment here.
To schedule an appointment at the Campbell County Health Center, please request an appointment here.
*Testing appointments are available on Mondays between the hours of 8 am and 12 pm only.
If you learn that you are infected with hepatitis C, it is important that you receive proper medical care. A health care provider can monitor your liver disease. They can also give you advice on how to take care of your liver and information on hepatitis C treatments. Hepatitis C is curable in many cases. Medications currently available for the treatment of hepatitis C are more successful, have fewer side eﬀects and the length of treatment is shorter (8-12 weeks).
For more information, please email email@example.com.
For more information on hepatitis C, visit https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hcv/
For information on signing up for health insurance, visit the Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange at https://kyhbe.ky.gov/general/agentorassister
For resources on substance use treatment, visit findhelpnowky.org, or call the NKY Addiction Helpline at 859-415-9280.
Tuberculosis, or TB, is an illness caused by bacteria. It usually infects the lungs. If not treated properly, TB can be fatal.
TB skin tests are available by appointment at the county health centers. Please call the center most convenient for you to schedule an appointment.
Please note that the Health Department’s fees for TB testing may be higher than other providers. If you are required to have the test for job or volunteer position, please check that the agency that you will be volunteering or working with doesn’t offer TB skin tests for free or at a reduced rate.
Testing can also be done through St. Elizabeth Healthcare’s business health office at 859-301-2999 or at retail health clinics inside local grocery stores and pharmacies.
Reporting a case
Active or symptomatic TB disease is reportable in Kentucky. To report a case, please call 859-363-2120. Healthcare providers, please fax 859-363-2057.
Services for those with TB
Health Department staff provide the following services to individuals with TB who live in or are visiting Northern Kentucky:
- Case management
- Case investigation
- Medication assistance
For more information, please call 859-363-2120.
Flu, COVID, Respiratory Infections
Flu, COVID, and respiratory infections tend to ramp up in the Fall and Winter. The best advice to prevent all three illnesses is to avoid others who are sick, stay away from others if you are sick, and get vaccinated, if you are eligible. Washing hands, avoiding places with large crowds, cleaning and sanitizing commonly touched services, keeping hands away from your mouth and face, and sneezing and coughing into a tissue and throwing it away immediately are also effective in preventing illness.
For information on respiratory illness, data, and isolation guidelines, visit the Kentucky Department of Public Health’s Respitatory Viruses Page.
Each Fall, the flu impacts more than 27 million people, according to the CDC, with up to 650,000 people hospitalized as a result.
Receiving an annual flu vaccine is a key preventative tool to fighting the illness, and is especially important for people who are at higher risk of developing complications, such as children under 5 years old, those with a respiratory condition, heart disease, or a weakened immune system.
If you test positive for the flu: Stay home and reduce contact with others to avoid spreading the virus, rest, drink plenty of liquids, and practice good hygiene. Wearing masks is a good practice as a means of protecting others.
For more information on the flu and flu vaccines, visit our flu page.
If you are in need of a flu vaccine, contact your primary care physician or local pharmacy. At our four county health centers, NKY Health offers flu vaccines through the vaccines for children program and in limited amounts for adults who are uninsured or have Medicaid.
While COVID is no longer a national health emergency, the virus is not going away and should be considered part of our everyday lives, much like the flu.
Also like the flu, COVID remains a virus that can cause severe health risks, particularly among the elderly, people who are immunocompromised, or those with respiratory illnesses.
It is recommended that each person consult with his/her primary care physician to determine risk levels and an appropriate course of preventative care. Vaccines are highly recommended. Good judgment should be exercised during travel and as the weather forces activities to move indoors.
Tests can be purchased at local pharmacies to determine if an individual has COVID. If a test is positive, treatment should be approached much like the flu: Stay home and reduce contact with others to avoid spreading the virus, rest, drink plenty of liquids, and practice good hygiene. Wearing masks is not required, but is still a good practice as a means of protecting others.
Contact your primary care physician or local pharmacy to purchase a COVID vaccine. Our four county health centers are only offering the vaccines for children and in limited amounts for adults who are uninsured or have Medicaid.
Those who are disabled may be able to receive a vaccination at home. Contact DIAL (Disability Information and Access Line) at 888-677-1199 to determine eligibility and schedule an appointment.
For exposure guidance, please follow the recommendations provided by the Centers for Disease Control.
In addition to the flu and now COVID, other respiratory infections are common starting each Fall, including respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Vaccines will be available soon for infants and for adults over the age of 60. Contact your primary care physician or local pharmacy.
COVID Guidance for K-12 Schools and Early Care and Education Programs
For the most up-to-date information and strategies for how schools should handle the COVID virus, please refer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site on “K-12 schools and early care and education programs.”
West Nile Virus
West Nile can be a serious threat to human and animal health. The most serious effect of West Nile is fatal encephalitis, which is an inflammation of the brain, in humans and horses. West Nile also kills certain species of domestic and wild birds.
The best way to prevent infection with the West Nile Virus is to prevent mosquito bites. – see above
West Nile response
Testing over the last several years has confirmed the presence of the virus in our region each year, thus it is safe to assume that local mosquitoes could carry the virus.
Individuals who may have contracted West Nile virus can be tested through local health care providers.
Human cases of West Nile virus are required to be investigated by the Health Department. West Nile virus is a reportable disease in Kentucky.
In some instances, the Health Department may be able to implement measures to control the mosquito population in certain areas. If you have a concern about mosquito infestations in Boone, Campbell, Grant or Kenton Counties, please file a public health complaint.