Local health officials discuss ways to protect yourself during Hepatitis A outbreak

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VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – Since the spring of 2017, Indiana has seen approximately 1,500 cases of Hepatitis A.  Before that, the state of Indiana would typically see no more than 20 cases during a 12 month period.

“Hepatitis A is very contagious liver disease just like Hepatitis B or C. It works a little differently because it’s usually not long term condition,” said Roni Elder, Vigo County health educator.

According to the CDC, most cases of Hepatitis A are resolved within two months. The disease is typically spread through fecal matter and it can be passed to others through food.
    
“Someone doesn’t wash their hands, they make your food, and you digest the hepatitis,” Elder said.

Some symptoms of the disease include jaundice, abdominal pain, dark urine, and fever.

Jace Biggs, a pharmacist with Milburn Pharmacy in Sullivan, says while there are a few ways to treat Hepatitis A and its symptoms, prevention remains the best method.

“The only way to really not get it is to get a vaccine,” Biggs said.

According to Biggs, a vaccine to prevent Hepatitis A is available for most people after the age of 1 and can last up to 20 years.

After the most recent outbreak Biggs says caution is always key to staying healthy during times like this.

“It’s just best to play on the safe side and not risk it. Especially whenever there’s little to no risk with getting a vaccine and the reward is not getting hepatitis,” Biggs said.

Of the counties in the Wabash Valley, Edgar County (23) in Illinois and Vigo County (18) have seen the most confirmed cases of the disease.

If you believe you have symptoms of Hepatitis A, you are encourage seek medical attention.

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