Health authorities in Monroe County, Indiana, have declared a public health emergency in the midst of a growing hepatitis C virus (HCV) epidemic. The move will allow the local department of health to establish the county’s first syringe exchange program to help stem the tide of new HCV cases, Fox News reports.

Until now, needle exchanges have been largely illegal in the state of Indiana. However, Monroe County has seen a drastic uptick in hep C cases tied to injection drug use over the last few years, which has prompted comprehensive new action to help better link at-risk communities with treatment, health care and other services critical to halting the spread of HCV.

The new law, titled Senate Enrolled Act 461, sets forth several requirements that local communities must meet in order to qualify for the state of emergency, including: A formal declaration of emergency, a public hearing and documented proof of other actions taken regarding the epidemic that have proven ineffective so far. As of now, no federal or state funding will be appropriated for the county’s syringe exchange.

Monroe County’s plan is the same program that was implemented in Scott County, Indiana, earlier this year, where nearly 200 new cases of HIV were related to injection drug use. That was the largest rural HIV outbreak in U.S. history.

For an in-depth look at the Scott County outbreak, click here.