Health officials are continuing to warn the public about the state's Hepatitis A outbreak

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(WBKO) -- Health officials are continuing to warn the public about the state's Hepatitis A outbreak, and how to prevent getting infected.

As of December 15, the Kentucky Department of Public Health reports that there has been 3,265 total outbreaks of Hepatitis A in Kentucky. Over 170 of those cases are in the 13 News viewing area.

1,625 have been hospitalized, and 21 people have died.

"You can have abdominal tenderness, fatigue, you can have dark urine, cloudy stools that look like clay, but the tell tail sign is yellowing of the skin or whites around the eyes," said Jane Lacefield, pharmacist at CDS #10 Pharmacy.

The acute outbreak of the infectious disease began in November of 2017.

"It's coming from the bigger cities," explained Lacefield.

With strains genetically linked to outbreaks in California, Utah and Michigan, according to the Kentucky Department of Public Health.

"As of last year children could not go to school unless they had at least one of the Hepatitis a vaccines," said Lacefield. "This is the first year that the state required that."

The disease is preventable.

"A vaccine is very important," emphasized Lacefield.

The vaccine is a two-step process with an initial shot.

"Then six to 12 months you have to get a second one to be completely protected," said Lacefield.

These reported cases are often from fast food employees who can then spread it to customers who are not vaccinated.

"You're protected against the disease, you don't have to worry about eating out," said Lacefield.

In addition to the vaccine, another rule of thumb to prevent the disease is the obvious - cleanliness.

"Wash your hands, get under your fingernails," said Lacefield.

Most insurance will cover the vaccine, some even at a $0 copay.

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