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Hepatitis A

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) declared a statewide community outbreak in December 2018 after observing an increase in person-to-person transmitted hepatitis A cases. As of August 1, 2021, IDPH is reporting a hepatitis A outbreak comprised of 259 confirmed cases that are not associated with international travel and are not foodborne related. Several of these cases are among individuals at high risk for infection--including men who have sex with men (MSM), persons experiencing homelessness, persons who use drugs and/or persons who are currently or were recently incarcerated. The statewide community outbreak is spread through person-to-person contact. Updates will be provided as data is available.

Illinois Hepatitis A Outbreak Cases
as of August 1, 2021*
Number of Cases 259
Age Range 4-96
Average Age 39
Median Age 35
Male 169 (65.3%)
Female 90 (34.7%)
Hospitalizations 172 (66.4%)
Deaths 1 (0.4%)
Onset Date Range 09/04/2018 - 07/01/2021

* As sequencing results become available, cases may be excluded if they do not meet the outbreak case definition.
**Men that have sexual contact with other men

Confirmed Cases Meeting the Illinois Hepatitis A
Outbreak Case Definition
County Number of Cases*
Adams 1
Carroll 2
Champaign 4
Clark 1
Clay 6
Cook (Chicago) 59
Cook (Skokie) 1
Cook (suburban) 21
Crawford 3
Douglas 1
DuPage 5
Edgar 25
Ford 2
Franklin 15
Fulton 1
Gallatin 1
Grundy 2
Hamilton 1
Henderson 1
Henry 1
Jackson 1
Jefferson 20
Kane 1
Kankakee 1
Kendall 1
Knox 1
Lake 2
Lawrence 7
Macon 2
Marion 1
Mason 1
McLean 15
Peoria 7
Richland 1
Rock Island 1
Saline 10
Sangamon 2
St. Clair 3
Tazewell 2
Union 3
Vermilion 6
Wayne 5
White 2
Will 7
Williamson 3
Woodford 1
Total Cases 259

* As sequencing results become available, cases may be excluded if they do not meet the outbreak case definition.

Image source: /content/dam/soi/en/web/idph/images/topics-services/diseases-and-conditions/Illinois Hepatitis A Outbreaks 08012021.jpg

Image source: /content/dam/soi/en/web/idph/images/topics-services/diseases-and-conditions/Hepatitis A Outbreak Cases County Transmision Status08012021.jpg

In May 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided an updated case definition resulting in an increase in the number of outbreak cases in Illinois. IDPH and local health departments continue to investigate reported hepatitis A cases.
The high-risk populations for hepatitis A in this outbreak include:

  • People who use drugs (injection or non-injection)
  • People experiencing unstable housing or homelessness
  • People who are currently or were recently incarcerated
  • Men who have sex with men (MSM)
  • People with chronic liver disease, including cirrhosis, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C

To protect Illinois' residents, IDPH, in partnership with local health departments, is offering FREE hepatitis A vaccines to those individuals most at risk — including men who have sex with men (MSM), persons experiencing homelessness, persons who use drugs and/or persons who are currently or were recently incarcerated. People who believe that they are at high risk for hepatitis A infection should contact their health care provider or local health department for information about vaccination. People who know that they have been exposed to someone with hepatitis A should contact their health care provider or local health department to discuss post-exposure vaccination options. Individuals who experience symptoms of hepatitis A should contact their health care provider.

Image source: /content/dam/soi/en/web/idph/files/hep-a-overview-2018.jpg

What is hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable, infectious liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus. Itis passed easily from one person to another through food, water, drug use, and sex.It can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. Hepatitis A is a self-limiting disease that does not cause chronic infection.

What are the symptoms of hepatitis A?

Symptoms of hepatitis A include:

  • Fever

  • Fatigue

  • Loss of appetite

  • Nausea and/or vomiting

  • Abdominal pain

  • Dark urine

  • Clay-colored poop

  • Joint pain

  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)

How is hepatitis A transmitted?

Hepatitis A usually spreads when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food, or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool from an infected person. Hepatitis A can also spread from close personal contact with an infected person such as through sex or caring for someone who is ill.

What are the risk factors for hepatitis A?

Although anyone can get hepatitis A, certain groups have a higher risk, such as:

  • People with direct contact with someone who has hepatitis A

  • Men who have sexual contact with men

  • People who are homeless

  • People who use drugs, both injection and non-injection drugs

  • People who are incarcerated

  • Travelers to countries where hepatitis A is common

How can you prevent hepatitis A?

The best way to prevent hepatitis A is through vaccination. The hepatitis A vaccine is a two-dose series, although one dose will still provide a significant amount of protection. Practicing good hand hygiene also prevents the spread of hepatitis A.

How is hepatitis A treated?

Unvaccinated individuals with recent exposure should receive the hepatitis A vaccine or a shot of immune globulin to prevent severe illness. There is no treatment for hepatitis A aside from treating symptoms through rest, fluids and adequate nutrition.

Who should you talk to about a hepatitis A vaccine?

If you are at a higher risk for contracting hepatitis A, talk with your health care provider about vaccination.

Alternatively, IDPH is working with 56 local health departments around the state covering 59 counties to make hepatitis A vaccine more readily available. IDPH has requested a large number of hepatitis A vaccines from the CDC. 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.

Do you or someone you know fit into one of these groups?

  • Use drugs or is a close contact to someone who uses drugs

  • Homeless or a close contact to someone who is homeless

  • A man who has sex with men or a close contact to a man who has sex with men

  • In treatment or counseling for substance abuse

  • Receiving drug substitution and/or drug court

  • Works or has been detained in a jail or a detention center

If YES to any of the above please ask about being vaccinated against Hepatitis A today. You may be eligible for a free to low cost hepatitis A vaccine.

Participating local health departments and clinics

Local Heath Department/Clinic County Phone
Adams County Health Department Adams 217-222-8440
Boone County Health Department Boone 815-544-2951
CCHHS - Robins Cook 312-405-7064
Champaign-Urbana Public Health District Champaign 217-531-4317
Christian County Health Department Christian 217-824-4113
City of Chicago Health Department Cook 312-746-6197
Clark County Health Department Clark 217-382-4207
Clay County Health Department Clark 618-662-4406
Coles County Health Department Coles 217-348-0530
Crawford County Health Department Crawford 618-544-8798
Cumberland County Health Department Cumberland 217-849-3211
DeKalb County Health Department DeKalb 815-748-2420
Dewitt-Piatt County Health Department Dewitt & Piatt 217-935-3427
Douglas County Health Department Douglas 217-253-4137
DuPage County Health Department DuPage 630-682-7400
DuPage County Health Department DuPage 630-682-7400
East Side Health District St. Clair 618-874-4713
Edgar County Public Health Department Edgar 217-466-3571
Fayette County Health Department Fayette 618-283-1044
Ford County Health Department Ford 217-379-9281
Franklin-Williamson County Health Department Franklin 618-439-0951
Franklin-Williamson County Health Department Williamson 618-993-8111
Grundy County Health Department Grundy 815-941-3126
Iroquois County Health Department Iroquois 815-432-2483
Jackson County Health Department Jackson 618-684-3143
Jasper County Health Department Jasper 618-783-4436
Jefferson County Health Department Jefferson 618-244-7134
Jersey County Health Department Jersey 618-498-9565
Kane County Health Department Kane 630-264-7665
Kankakee County Health Department Kankakee 815-802-9400
Kendall County Health Department Kendall 630-553-9100
Knox County Health Department Knox 309-344-2224
Lake County Health Department Lake 847-377-8470
LaSalle County Health Department LaSalle 815-433-3366
Lawrence County Health Department Lawrence 618-943-3302
Lee County Health Department Lee 815-284-3371
Livingston County Health Department Livingston 815-844-7174
Logan County Health Department Logan 217-735-2317
Macon County Health Department Macon 217-423-6988
Macoupin County Health Department Macoupin 217-839-1526
Madison County Health Department Madison 618-692-8954
Marion County Health Department Marion 618-548-3878
McDonough County Health Department McDonough 309-837-9951
McHenry County Health Department McHenry 815-334-4850
McLean County Health Department McLean 309-888-5450
Peoria City/County Health Department Peoria 309-679-6655
Perry County Health Department Perry 618-357-5371
Pike County Health Department Pike 217-285-4407
Sangamon County Health Department Sangamon 217-535-3100
Southern 7 CHD - Alexander Alexander 618-734-4167
Southern 7 CHD - Johnson Johnson 618-658-5011
Southern 7 CHD - Massac Massac 618-524-2212
Southern 7 CHD - Pulaski Pulaski 618-634-9405
Southern 7 CHD - Union Union 618-833-8561
St. Clair County Health Department St. Clair 618-825-4430
Stephenson County Health Department Stephenson 815-599-8429
Stickney Public Health Department Cook 708-424-9200
Tazewell County Health Department Tazewell 309-925-5511
Vermilion County Health Department Vermilion 217-431-2662
Wabash County Health Department Wabash 618-263-3773
Whiteside County Health Department Whiteside 815-626-2230
Will County Health Department Will 815-727-8865
Winnebago County Health Department Winnebago 815-720-4090

What can health care providers do about hepatitis A?

If health care providers identify any suspected cases of HAV, especially within these high-risk groups, it is important to confirm cases with serologic testing (IgM) and promptly report them to your local health department (LHD).

The HAV vaccine is safe, and highly effective. To prevent hepatitis A, CDC recommends the following groups be vaccinated for HAV:

  • All children at age 1 year
  • Travelers to countries that have high rates of hepatitis A
  • Family members/caregivers of recent adoptees from countries where HAV is common
  • Men who have sexual contact with other men
  • Users of injection and non-injection illegal drugs
  • People with chronic (lifelong) liver diseases, such as hepatitis B or C
  • People who are treated with clotting-factor concentrates
  • People who work with infected animals or in a HAV research laboratory

Recently, ACIP voted unanimously to add “homelessness” as an additional indication for ACIP-recommended HAV vaccination (1). We recommend all providers screen their patients and provide HAV vaccine when indicated. While two doses are recommended to complete the series, even one dose provides nearly 95% immunity for at least several years

What has IDPH done about hepatitis A?

In the fall of 2017, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) issued a memo regarding multiple outbreaks of hepatitis A in the U.S. So far in 2018, many of these outbreaks are still ongoing and additional outbreaks have been reported in several states such as Indiana, Michigan and Kentucky. These outbreaks are predominantly occurring in the homeless populations and in persons who use injection and non-injection drugs (IDU), along with close contacts of both groups. Additional outbreak clusters have also been identified in men who have sex with other men (MSM) and persons who are or have recently been incarcerated. On June 5, 2018, IDPH sent a memo to local health departments and medical providersencouraging the continuation of testing, reporting and vaccination of populations at risk for Hepatitis A.

IDPH Press Releases


HAV Resources for Providers