Hepatitis A outbreak in Indiana hits 700 cases in past year

A vial of hepatitis A vaccine. (Photo: Rachael Krause/WAVE-TV)

HENDRICKS COUNTY (WTHR) - Health officials warn Hoosiers to take precautions against hepatitis A because of an ongoing outbreak both here and in other states.

The State Department of Health has confirmed 698 outbreak-related cases since last November. Indiana normally only sees about 20 cases in a 12-month period.

“Hepatitis A vaccine is available from healthcare providers and pharmacies as routine preventive care,” said Teresa Krupka, public health nurse for the Hendricks County Health Department. "Handwashing for 20 seconds with warm water and soap is also highly recommended."

Hepatitis A is usually transmitted person-to-person through fecal-oral routes or by consuming contaminated food or water. The CDC says people who use illicit drugs, people who are homeless, men who have sex with men and people who are incarcerated are the most likely to contract hep A.

Symptoms can include fatigue, loss of appetite, stomach pain, nausea and jaundice, which usually appear within two months of infection, though you can get sick up to 50 days after exposure. A blood test from your doctor can confirm if you have contracted the virus.