ANDERSON — The Madison County Health Department reported that there have been 20 cases of hepatitis A reported in the month of January.

The Madison County Board of Health was told on Wednesday that there have been 40 confirmed cases of hepatitis A since September. The average in previous years was two cases.

Stephanie Grimes, administrator for the county Health Department, said the Health Department continues to make trips to the Madison County Jail and Madison County Community Corrections Complex to vaccinate inmates for hepatitis A. 

She said Health Department nurses also administered 12 hepatitis A vaccinations at an apartment complex.

“Most of the cases are from the jail and community corrections,” Grimes said. “The common theme is intravenous drug use.”

The Board of Health learned many of those with hepatitis A are also confirmed with hepatitis C.

Grimes previously said the Indiana State Department of Health reported an outbreak in 2017 in the northern and southern parts of the state.

“In July, the state identified 27 counties, including Madison County, that were at risk for an outbreak of hepatitis A,” Grimes said.

The target population for the hepatitis A outbreak is people who are homeless, transient, incarcerated and illicit drug users.

Health assessment 

With Madison County possessing some of the highest obesity, heart disease and diabetes rates in the state, Grimes said the Health Department will be conducting a health assessment in 2019.

“Madison County ranks low in the state in terms of improving the quality of health,” Grimes said. “There have been several assessments done, but we want to do one through the Health Department to develop a strategy.”

The intent is to develop a one-year plan to improve the quality of health in the county, she said.

“We’re going to look at what other counties have done as a sample,” Grimes said. “We hope by July to collect the data and have the plan developed.”

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