Take precaution when traveling to states with hepatitis A outbreak

The Indiana State Department of Health is urging Hoosiers to get vaccinated and take other steps to protect themselves from hepatitis A if they plan to travel to states that are experiencing outbreaks of the disease.

Kentucky and Michigan have reported significant outbreaks of hepatitis A, a highly contagious viral infection of the liver.

Kentucky has more than 300 cases, the majority of which have occurred in the Louisville area, and Michigan has more than 800 cases, including 25 deaths.

Indiana, which typically sees fewer than 20 cases of hepatitis statewide each year, has confirmed 77 cases since January, many of which are related to an outbreak in southern Indiana.

“Getting vaccinated and thoroughly washing your hands before and after preparing food and eating and after using the restroom are simple, safe and effective ways to prevent the spread of hepatitis A,” said Deputy State Health Commissioner and State Epidemiologist Pam Pontones.

Since 2014, Indiana has required children to be immunized against hepatitis A prior to entering school. However, anyone who may be at risk, especially food handlers in schools, hospitals, restaurants, correctional institutions and other facilities that serve large numbers of people, is urged to get vaccinated.

Hepatitis A vaccine is readily available from health care providers and pharmacies as routine preventive care.