NewsHealth / June 23, 2015

Public Health Emergency Declared In Madison County

Public Health Emergency Declared In Madison County

A public health emergency has been declared for Madison County. Local health officials may now set up a needle exchange program to help fight the spread of Hepititis C.

Joe Mabel, CC-BY-SA-3.0

INDIANAPOLIS — State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams has declared a public health emergency for Madison County, allowing the county health department to establish a syringe exchange program for the purposes of reducing the spread of Hepatitis C.

“Madison County officials led a discussion with their community, and they submitted a detailed analysis of their Hepatitis C epidemic and their plan to combat it,” Adams said. “I am confident that a syringe exchange program will be operated as part of a comprehensive public health response in Madison County. The State will be available to offer technical assistance.”

Related - Getting Right: An HIV Outbreak Spurs Change In Austin, Indiana

Earlier this year, the Indiana General Assembly made syringe exchange programs legal in Indiana for the first time, under certain circumstances. The law lays out a set of procedural and substantive requirements that local communities must meet in order for an emergency declaration to be considered by the state health commissioner. 

Steps in the process for local communities:

Local health officer declares

  • Epidemic of Hep-C or HIV
  • Primarily transmitted through IV drug use
  • A syringe exchange program is medically appropriate as part of a comprehensive response

County Commissioners act

  • Hold a public hearing
  • Take official action adopting the declarations of the local health officer (above)
  • Describe other actions taken regarding the epidemic that have proven ineffective
  • Request a public health emergency declaration

Madison County is the second county in which a public health emergency has been declared. Adams declared Indiana’s first public health emergency in Scott County in May.

By law, specific aspects of design and implementation of the exchange programs are left to local officials. No federal or state funding is provided for syringe exchange programs.

For questions regarding the syringe exchange program, contact Kellie Kelley at the Madison County Health Department, 756-646-9207 or

You can find more more information on the Madison County syringe exchange proposal here

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