Minnesota experiencing hepatitis A outbreak, health officials say

State health officials say Minnesota is currently experiencing an outbreak of hepatitis A. 

Since May, Minnesota has seen an increase of hepatitis A cases, according to the state Department of Health. As of last Friday, there have been 23 reported cases, with 13 requiring hospitalizations. Nine counties have reported cases, including Hennepin, Dakota and Washington counties. 

Health officials have not been able to pinpoint a source for the most recent cases in the outbreak, but they say the majority of people who have contracted hepatitis A in Minnesota are drug users, people experiencing homelessness or those who have been recently incarcerated. 

"Declaring an outbreak is a significant step because it allows us to access additional resources to fight the outbreak," Kris Ehresmann, infectious disease coordinator for MDH, said in a statement. 

Hepatitis A is a viral infection that can cause severe fever and liver damage. Symptoms of hepatitis A include fever, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Patients can also experience dark-colored urine and light-colored stool as well as yellowing of the eyes and skin, known as jaundice. 

The most effective way to prevent hepatitis A is vaccination. The health department is encouraging anyone who has not received the vaccine to get vaccinated.