The Barry-Eaton District Health Department (BEDHD) is reporting a confirmed case of hepatitis A in an Eaton County resident, the first during 2017. It is unknown if the case is related to an ongoing hepatitis A outbreak in southeast Michigan; laboratory testing to confirm or disprove such a link is underway.
The individual is not considered to be at high risk of spreading hepatitis A to others and is undergoing appropriate treatment.
Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable, contagious liver disease often spread by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with infected feces or by oral contact with contaminated objects. Transmission can occur easily among household contacts and sexual partners.
Risk factors for getting hepatitis A include homelessness or use of transient housing, illicit drug use, and incarceration. Men who have sex with men and sex workers and their clients are also at high risk.
While the risk is higher among these specific populations, BEDHD recommends that all individuals be vaccinated against the disease.
Hepatitis A can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious illness lasting several months. Illness generally occurs two to six weeks after exposure to the hepatitis A virus. Symptoms include fatigue, abdominal pain, yellow skin (jaundice), dark urine, and pale stool. Some people have no symptoms. Vaccination against hepatitis A and thorough hand washing can prevent infection. //
“Outside of vaccination, handwashing is the most important step that everyone can take to protect themselves from hepatitis A,” said Dr. J. Daniel Woodall, BEDHD medical director.
“With other contagious diseases like the flu, whooping cough, and gastrointestinal illnesses currently in our area, proper handwashing is the key, everyday action that people can take to keep healthy this holiday season.”
People who believe they have been exposed to hepatitis A or who have 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.
For more information, visit https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hav/.