The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) reported last week they continue to see an elevated number of hepatitis A cases in the state.
Since the beginning of the outbreak in August 2016 through February 14, 751 cases, including 609 hospitalizations have been reported. This includes 25 fatalities.
Macomb County has seen the most cases (210), followed by the city of Detroit (161), Wayne County (131) and Oakland County (99).
The public health response has included increased healthcare awareness efforts, public notification and education, and outreach with vaccination clinics for high-risk populations.
No common sources of food, beverages, or drugs have been identified as a potential source of infection. Transmission appears to be through direct person-to-person spread and illicit drug use. Those with history of injection and non-injection drug use, homelessness or transient housing, and incarceration are thought to be at greater risk in this outbreak setting. Notably, this outbreak has had a high hospitalization rate.
Hepatitis A is a serious, highly contagious liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). HAV is found in the feces (poop) of people with hepatitis A. You can get hepatitis A by eating contaminated food or water, during sex, or just by living with an infected person. Illness can appear 15-50 days after exposure and you can be sick for several weeks. In some cases, people can die. Although not all people infected with hepatitis A experience illness, symptoms can include: nausea and vomiting, belly pain, feeling tired, fever, loss of appetite, yellowing of the skin and eyes, dark urine, pale-colored feces and joint pain.
Hepatitis A can be prevented with a safe and effective vaccine.
MDHHS says the following should get the vaccine:
- Persons who are homeless.
- Persons who are incarcerated.
- Persons who use injection and non-injection illegal drugs.
- Persons who work with the high risk populations listed above.
- Persons who have close contact, care for, or live with someone who has HAV.
- Persons who have sexual activities with someone who has HAV.
- Men who have sex with men.
- Travelers to countries with high or medium rates of HAV.
- Persons with chronic liver disease, such as cirrhosis, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C.
- Persons with clotting factor disorders.
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