Indiana Health Chief Ok’s Needle Exchanges In Madison County

Indiana Health Commissioner Dr. Jerome Adams has declared a public health emergency in Madison County, allowing local officials to create needle exchange program to reduce the spread of hepatitis C.

The declaration Tuesday makes Madison the second county in the state to win approval for needle exchanges after southern Indiana's Scott County, which is battling an HIV outbreak.

Madison County Health Department spokeswoman Kellie Kelly says the county northeast of Indianapolis has had at least 130 new cases of hepatitis C this year, compared with 130 for all of 2014 and 70 new cases during 2013.

Legislation signed into law earlier this year by Gov. Mike Pence makes needle exchange programs legal in Indiana for the first time after the state has declared a local public health emergency.