Hepatitis vaccines urged for travelers to Kentucky, Michigan

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - (04-23-18) - Indiana health officials are advising residents to get vaccinated for hepatitis A if their summer plans include visits to Kentucky or Michigan.

MGN Online

The Department of Health says significant outbreaks of the liver-damaging hepatitis A virus have been reported in Kentucky and Michigan.

The agency says Kentucky has seen more than 300 cases of the highly contagious viral infection, most of those in the Louisville area. Michigan has had more than 800 cases, including 25 deaths.

Indiana typically sees less than 20 hepatitis cases each year, but 77 have been confirmed since January.

State Epidemiologist Pam Pontones says getting vaccinated for hepatitis A and thoroughly washing hands when preparing food are "simple, safe and effective ways" to prevent the spread of hepatitis A.

ABC12 spoke with the Shiawassee County Health Department Monday; they say the outbreak still has not peaked.

"One of the things were seeing with this outbreak right now is a high hospitalization rate," said Director Larry Johnson.

To date, there have been 657 cases involving hospitalization, which amounts to 81 percent of the reported 815 cases statewide.

"We just have not been able to get a handle on this outbreak, which is why we've had to ramp up our efforts for vaccination and education," Johnson said.

For those considered high risk of contracting hepatitis A, the vaccine is free of charge at any county health department in Michigan.

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