Health officials confirm state's first hepatitis A death

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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) -Officials with the State Department of Health have confirmed the state's first death related to an outbreak of hepatitis A.

The outbreak has caused nearly 4,000 illnesses in 10 states and resulted in several deaths nationwide.

Since November 2017, health officials have confirmed 214 outbreak-related cases of hepatitis A.

"This heartbreaking loss of life illustrates how serious this outbreak is, and I urge Hoosiers to practice good hand washing and to get vaccinated, especially if they fall into a high-risk population," said Indiana State Health Commissioner Kris Box, M.D., FACOG. "We are working with our local and federal health partners to slow the spread of hepatitis A in our state, but this disease is highly contagious and can spread rapidly, so prevention is critical."

Over the past several months, Indiana health officials have been working to educate the public, restaurants, jails and groups that serve at-risk populations about the outbreak and ways to prevent the disease. ISDH has allocated more than one-million dollars in additional state and federal funds to supply adult vaccine to local health departments.

Health officials recommend anyone exhibiting symptoms of hepatitis A to contact a healthcare provider immediately and refrain from preparing food for others. Symptoms can include fatigue, loss of appetite, stomach pain, nausea and jaundice, which usually appear within two months of infection. Individuals can become ill 15-50 days after being exposed to the virus.