Hepatitis A has been a significant problem in two metropolitan areas separated by nearly 2,000 miles this year. Of course I’m talking about San Diego County, CA and Detroit, MI and surrounding areas.
Since the beginning of the year, health officials in San Diego County have reported 421 cases in the local outbreak, in which 16 people have died (~4%). About seven out 10 of the patients required hospitalization for their illness.
Health officials say the majority of people who have contracted hepatitis A are homeless and/or illicit drug users, although some cases have been neither. The outbreak is being spread person-to-person and through contact with a fecally contaminated environment. No common sources of food, beverage or drugs have been identified that have contributed to this outbreak, though investigation is ongoing.
In the Detroit area, including Macomb, Oakland, Wayne, and St. Clair counties, the numbers are very similar. According to the latest statistics from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), 318 cases have been reported in the past 13 months, including 14 deaths (4.4%). Eighty-five percent of those infected required hospitalization.
In fact, according to a MDHHS spokesperson, since the end of June 2017, 120 cases and four deaths have been recorded.
In addition, like the San Diego outbreak, most cases are reported in the homeless and illicit substance users without substantial numbers of MSM. And based on reported data, the viruses are not genetically identical.
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