CHICAGO (CBS) —  The Illinois Department of Public Health received confirmation of five hepatitis A cases in east-central Illinois during November.

According to IDPH, on average 70 cases of hepatitis A are reported in Illinois each year. So far this year 69 cases have been confirmed statewide.

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“These recent cases are a reminder that states across the country, including states bordering Illinois, have been seeing hepatitis A outbreaks,” said IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah. “We encourage those at highest risk for infection, including men who have sex with men, homeless individuals, and those who use drugs, to get vaccinated against hepatitis A.”

Hepatitis A is an infection that can damage the liver, and is passed easily from one person to another through food, water, drug use and sex. Hepatitis A infection is a vaccine-preventable illness. Symptoms include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movements, joint pain, and jaundice, according to the IDPH.

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IDPH has requested a large number of hepatitis A vaccines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is working with 37 local health departments statewide to make hepatitis A vaccines more readily available. That vaccine is being delivered to numerous local health departments across Illinois to be available for free or at a reduced cost for people at the greatest risk of becoming infected.

According to the CDC, from January 2017 to April 2018, there have been more than 2,500 reports of hepatitis A infections from multiple states. Of the more than 1,900 reports for which risk factors are known, more than 1,300 people infected reported drug use (injection and non-injection), homelessness or both.

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