The Tennessee Health Department reports 153 cases of hepatitis A in the Chattanooga-Hamilton County area.

Health officials say they're seeing the number of cases rise across the state.

Officials say the most commonly infected demographic is recreational drug users, though some in the area have contracted the virus from contaminated food.

Channel 3 spoke with Sharon Goforth, a nurse and special projects supervisor for the Hamilton County Health Department, on the best ways to avoid contracting hepatitis a.

"Any of those times you have reason to believe your hands would be dirty, go to a hand wash sink and wash them. It takes you 20 seconds. Put some soap on them. Rub them together. Twenty seconds later, you have disinfected your hands. It can be that simple to stop the spread of this kind of illness,” said Goforth.

The Hamilton County Health Department offers free vaccinations for hepatitis a.

Click here for more information about the vaccines and the virus.

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