Happy Monday, readers, I hope you had a wonderful weekend. This is Sy.
Indiana health authorities urge residents who plan to travel to Kentucky or Michigan to get Hepatitis A vaccines, since an outbreak of the virus in the United States increases mortality before the summer travel season.  The Kentucky Hepatitis A outbreak has infected more than 300 people in several counties and has killed at least three. The situation is even more worrying in Michigan, where more than 800 cases of hepatitis A have been reported along with more than two dozen deaths. Indiana is also reporting a greater number of hepatitis A infections this year compared to 2017, leading public health experts to boost vaccines for those who have not yet received immunizations.
This is what we know so far about this latest outbreak.  Why is this outbreak of Hepatitis A spreading?
Officials still have to track new outbreaks of Hepatitis A in these states to a specific root cause. But one theory postulates that the lack of stricter vaccination requirements decades ago means that some older residents could never receive their hepatitis A injections.
The spread of hepatitis A (and is not limited to the states of Kentucky, Michigan and Indiana-West Coast) as California has also been grappling with the scourge) could theoretically be the combined effect of unvaccinated individuals and contaminated substances such as food. After all, as the CDC points out, after a strong downward trend in these viral infections for more than a decade, the number of reported cases began to increase again some five years ago.  "[T] first increases between 2012 and 2013 (1,562 and 1,781 reported cases, respectively), was due to a large outbreak in several states," says the agency. "Between 2015 and 2016, reported cases again increased by 44.4% from 1,390 in 2015 to 2,007 cases in 2016. The increase in 2016 was due to two [hep A] outbreaks linked to imported food."
What is Hepatitis A and its symptoms?
Hepatitis A is an infectious viral disease that attacks the liver. It is easily prevented by vaccines against Hepatitis A and common sense public health practices, such as hand washing, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC); but it is also very contagious, spread by contact with an infected person or contaminated food and water.
The symptoms of hepatitis A include various pain and pains similar to those of influenza, such as fever, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal and other pain. It can affect both children and adults. But a key difference between hepatitis A and its viral cousins, hepatitis B and hepatitis C is that it is usually short-term and does not become a long-term chronic disease. There are also vaccines to prevent Hepatitis A and B; The same can not be said about Hepatitis C.
Hepatitis A vaccine: how long does it last?
Public health officials in the states affected by this latest outbreak emphasized that "all children, from 1 year to 18 years old, [should] receive the vaccine against Hepatitis A, as well as adults who want to avoid an infection acute hepatitis A, "Acting Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Public Health, Dr. Jeffrey Howard, recently said in a statement.
The vaccination course consists of taking two injections, with a difference of approximately six months. The first shot alone can provide protection, even if it has already been infected (as long as it is administered quickly enough), according to the CDC. Following the vaccination program completely (or being infected and then recovering from Hepatitis A) generally offers permanent protection, which is a large part of the reason why the rates of Hepatitis A have fallen by an impressive 95% since introduced the vaccine in 1995.
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