Indiana health officials say hepatitis A cases on the rise in Marion County

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Hepatitis A cases are on the rise in Marion County as an outbreak of the virus continues in Indiana.

According to the Marion County Public Health Department, about 2-4 confirmed cases of hepatitis A are reported in the county on average 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 year.

Hepatitis A is a contagious infection of the liver, and 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.

Practicing good hand hygiene plays an important role in preventing the spread.

“Thoroughly washing hands after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and before preparing or eating food helps reduce possible exposure to viruses such as hepatitis A and flu,” said Virginia A. Caine, M.D., director of the Marion County Public Health Department. “This is an easy way to protect your health and prevent spreading germs to others.”

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.

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