Based on Jan. 5 laboratory results, the Barry-Eaton District Health Department (BEDHD) has confirmed that the hepatitis A case reported in December of 2017 is linked to the statewide Southeast Michigan hepatitis A outbreak, the first case of the disease in the county linked to the outbreak.
A second case of hepatitis, confirmed on Jan. 5, will have additional lab testing to confirm or disprove if it is related to the outbreak. The person is not considered at high risk of spreading the disease and is undergoing appropriate treatment.
Hepatitis A is vaccine preventable. The best ways to help prevent infection is getting vaccinated and practicing good hand hygiene. The vaccine is recommended in routine childhood vaccinations; however, most adults have not been vaccinated.
“We recommend that everyone be vaccinated against Hepatitis A,” said Colette Scrimger, BEDHD’s health officer. “Outside of vaccination, handwashing is the most important step that everyone can take to protect themselves.” Individuals should always wash their hands after going to the bathroom or changing diapers and before eating or preparing meals for themselves and others.
Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease often spread by consuming food or water contaminated with infected feces or by oral contact with contaminated objects. Transmission can occur easily among people who live together and between sexual partners. Homelessness, use of transient housing, illicit drug use, incarceration and men who have sex with men and sex workers and their clients are at a higher risk for getting the disease.//
Hepatitis A generally occurs two to six weeks after exposure to the virus and can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious illness lasting several months. Symptoms include fatigue, abdominal pain, yellow skin (jaundice), dark urine, and pale stool. Some people have no symptoms.
Anyone who believes they have been exposed to hepatitis A or has symptoms should contact their healthcare provider immediately. Those who want to be vaccinated should contact their healthcare provider or BEDHD’s Eaton County office at (517) 541-2630.
As of Jan. 5, 630 other individuals in the state have had the illness linked to the outbreak; 82 percent of ill individuals have been hospitalized and 20 deaths have been reported, with the majority of the cases in metro Detroit. For more information, visit https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hav/.
For more about the Southeast Michigan outbreak, visit http://michigan.gov/hepatitisaoutbreak.