By NewsDesk @infectiousdiseasenews
The hepatitis A outbreak in Michigan began in August of 2016 and more than three years on, state and local public health officials continue to investigate outbreak cases.
Since the outbreak began, Michigan has reported 920 hepatitis A cases. Eighty percent of those individuals have been hospitalized and 30 have died. In addition, fifty-two percent of the people who have suffered from the disease have documented substance use.
Officials have reported seven recent acute cases of hepatitis A in Kalkaska, Grand Traverse and Antrim counties in Northwest Lower Michigan. That strain is not the same as the Michigan outbreak strain but has been circulating nationally in several other states. Several of these individuals also have reported substance use as a risk factor.
“Although Michigan has not seen the number of cases of hepatitis A that we have during the height of the outbreak, it is essential that people with risk factors for hepatitis A continue to be vaccinated, “said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health at MDHHS.
On a national level, 30 states are reporting hepatitis A outbreaks since 2016. These numbers are still rising and include several states near Michigan.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is encouraging residents to be aware of the associated risk factors, the importance of handwashing and the available vaccination to prevent the hepatitis A infection.
Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable disease and MDHHS encourages a hepatitis A virus vaccination for at-risk individuals, including people with a history of injection and non-injection drug use, homelessness or transient housing, incarceration and men who have sex with men.