VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) -- Hepatitis A continues to plague many in the state of Indiana. Since January, Indiana has been one of several states experiencing a Hepatitis A outbreak.
As of Tuesday, the State Department of Health has tallied 2,059 outbreak cases and a little more than half of those individuals have been hospitalized. Four deaths have also been confirmed in the state.
Indiana has issued nearly 187,600 vaccinations for Hepatitis A since the start of the year. Vigo County certainly isn't immune to this statewide outbreak.
There are currently 30 cases of Hepatitis A in Vigo County. Vigo County's Health Department states that they have seen a gradual increase in cases each month. Primarily, they have seen these cases in the drug community among homeless people and those using IV drugs.
There have been nearly 1,900 vaccinations given in Vigo County. "We've been seeing it for quite a while," Health Educator Roni Elder said, "People should not worry about going to restaurants and getting this. This is more in our drug population here."
The Health Department has taken steps to prevent the spread of the virus. They have gone into jails and soup kitchens to administer vaccinations.
Hepatitis A is a liver infection caused by eating or drinking contaminated food or liquids. Typically, consuming fecal matter with food or drinks, or not washing your hands after using the bathroom is a common cause. Elder says it is an extremely contagious disease. "It's a very hardy disease," she says, "You can touch something and it can stay on there for quite some time. It's very important to stay clean and wash everything."
Symptoms of Hepatitis A usually appear two to six weeks after someone is infected. They include fever, vomiting, yellowing of the eyes, diarrhea, and fatigue. System Infection Control Officer Joe McKanna says this can range from being relatively mild to very severe. "The problem with Hepatitis A and all other Hepatitis's," he said, "It may lead to liver failure which is very dangerous. You may need a liver transplant or it could lead to death."
Both individuals recommend getting vaccinated for Hepatitis A to protect yourself from this nasty virus. You can do this at the health department or your local health care provider.
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