A fifth person has died in Louisville from hepatitis A, according to the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness.

The death is the latest in an outbreak of the contagious liver disease that has led to at least 580 cases locally and more than 1,300 statewide.

No details were released about the deceased, including the person’s age and sex. But department spokesman Dave Langdon said the person had been ill with hepatitis A for a long time.

The death occurred within the last few days, Langdon said. The Cabinet for Health and Family Services had recorded eight deaths as of Aug. 4.

The illness, which causes inflammation of the liver, is typically spread when people come in contact with foods, beverages or other objects that have been contaminated with the fecal matter of an infected person. It also can be picked up while in close contact with an infected person, such as when being intimate or sharing drug paraphernalia, such as a joint.

Health officials have said the outbreak has primarily affected homeless people and individuals who use illegal drugs.

Sarah Moyer, director of the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness, speaks on hepatitis A.

But in a news conference last month, Public Health and Wellness Director Sarah Moyer said that “recently, we’re seeing a growing number of cases of people with no risk factors and have had cases in every single ZIP code here in Louisville.”

On the bright side, however, Jefferson County is seeing only about one new case a day now, compared to a high of 4.1 cases a day in April, Langdon said.

The department encourages people who haven’t gotten vaccinated to do so and for everyone to wash their hands thoroughly.

Darla Carter

Darla Carter

Darla Carter is a hometown girl who recently joined the staff of Insider Louisville to mostly cover health. She previously served as a longtime health and fitness writer for The Courier-Journal, where she also worked for the Metro, Neighborhoods and Features departments. Prior to that, the award-winning journalist wrote for newspapers elsewhere in Kentucky and Tennessee, covering a range of topics, from education to courts. She's a graduate of Western Kentucky University, where she studied journalism and philosophy, and is the proud mom of two young children.