The state's largest outbreak of hepatitis so far this year has been reported in Hildale.

One hundred cases of type A hepatitis have been reported since July in the communities of Hildale and Colorado City, Ariz., where a large percentage of the residents practice polygamy.State epidemiologist Craig Nichols said a good percentage of the victims are children. He said the viral disease is spread from person to person through close contact and can also be spread through food or water.

Originally, he said, it was thought the disease may have been related to contaminated water, but Nichols said investigators found no evidence of contamination.

Nichols said type A hepatitis is a very mild disease and many times is misdiagnosed because of the absence of jaundice in children.

Through Sept. 30, excluding the most recent cases in southern Utah, 302 cases of type A hepatitis had occurred in Utah this year compared with 203 in 1987.