Marion County is experiencing an increase in the number of hepatitis A cases, as an outbreak of the virus continues in Indiana, according to a Thursday press release from Curt Brantingham, media public information coordinator for the Marion County Public Health Department.
Usually, about 2 to 4 confirmed cases of hepatitis A are reported in the county each year. So far in 2018, the health department says 57 confirmed cases have been reported in Marion County, with an upward trend noticed in recent weeks.
Since declaring a statewide outbreak in November 2017, the Indiana State Department of Health has reported more than 770 cases of hepatitis A and two related deaths across the state. Indiana joins other surrounding states, such as Kentucky, Ohio and Michigan, who have experienced an outbreak of the virus over the past 12 months.
Hepatitis A is a contagious infection of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus. Symptoms include fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, and jaundice. Most people who get the virus recover quickly and do not have lasting liver damage.
Hepatitis A is usually transmitted person-to-person through the fecal-oral route, most commonly by eating food or drinking water that has been exposed to someone with the virus. It can also get transmitted through close personal contact with an infected person, including sexual contact.
Anyone can be at risk for hepatitis A, but certain groups are at higher risk. Hepatitis A can be prevented through vaccination and practicing good hygiene by washing hands with soap and water before preparing meals, after going to the bathroom and after changing diapers.
Due to the continued increase in outbreak-related hepatitis A cases, the Indiana State Department of Health has expanded its Adult Vaccine Program to include those insured and underinsured. Since Jan. 1, 2018, 99,411 public and private doses of hepatitis A vaccine have been administered.
Those who come into close contact with an infected person can protect themselves from the virus by getting a hepatitis A vaccination within two weeks of exposure. Hepatitis A vaccine is available through health care providers, pharmacies, and the Marion County Public Health Department’s district health offices.
For up-to-date information on the Indiana hepatitis A outbreak, visit the ISDH website.
For information on the multi-state hepatitis A outbreak, visit the CDC website.