Reports indicate that Indiana and Kentucky have recently had to deal with hepatitis A outbreaks. Since November 2017, 76 cases have come to fruition in Indiana, with 69 of them occurring this year alone; Kentucky has reported 400 since August 2017 and officially declared a state outbreak as of November of last year.
While there have been no deaths in Indiana due to the illness, Kentucky has reported three fatalities in 2018. According to health officials in both states, Indiana and Kentucky generally report 20 cases of the condition annually.
Each state is addressing the issue and launching measures to keep the numbers at bay; however, the illness continues to increase. Indiana had 39 cases emerge in March and approximately 13 weekly this past April, while Kentucky had 120 cases in March and an additional 80 come up last month.
A highly contagious condition, hepatitis A is found within feces of the individuals affected and is transferred via drinking water or food that is handled by someone who has the illness and has not washed their hands properly. It can also be transmitted via sexual intercourse or illicit drug use. Common signs and symptoms include: fever, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, appetite loss, as well as jaundice/yellowing of eyes or skin. Symptoms take about 15 to 50 days to come to the surface and those infected are the most contagious within the two weeks prior to skin appearing yellow.
As per the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the illness is quite difficult to kill and can remain live for weeks upon months outside of one’s body. Frequent hand washing is vital when it comes to controlling an outbreak, as hand sanitizers are not effective when it comes to hepatitis A.
CNN recently advised that officials in both states have reported an increase in the condition when it comes to homeless individuals who use drugs, and Indiana specifically has seen a rise in cases for incarcerated individuals.
Utah, Michigan, California, and Colorado have also witnessed a rise in hepatitis A cases in 2018.