More cases of hepatitis A reported in Michigan outbreak - WNEM TV 5

More cases of hepatitis A reported in Michigan outbreak

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Hepatitis A virus (Source: CDC) Hepatitis A virus (Source: CDC)

Public health officials are reporting an increase in hepatitis A cases in Michigan.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and other health officials are seeing an elevated number of cases in Detroit and the counties of Macomb, Oakland and Wayne.

From August 1, 2016, to June 26, 2017, 190 cases of lab-confirmed hepatitis A have been reported in those areas, including 10 deaths. That’s about an ten-fold increase during the same time last year.

People aged 21 to 86-years-old have been impacted, with the average age being 44-years-old. Most of the cases have been men, with 87 percent causing hospitalization. 

While no common source of the outbreak such as contaminated food or water has been found, transmission does appear to be person-to-person through illicit drug use, sexual activity, and close contact among household members.

“Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable disease,” said Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive for MDHHS. “And while the hepatitis A vaccine is recommended as part of the routine childhood vaccination schedule, most adults have not been vaccinated against the hepatitis A virus and may be susceptible to the illness.”

Those with hepatitis A are infectious for two weeks before seeing symptoms. Symptoms include jaundice (yellowing of the skin), fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, and light-colored stools.

Health officials said the symptoms usually appear over a number of days and last less than two months. However, some people can be ill for as long as six months.

Hepatitis A can sometimes cause liver failure and death, they said. 

It’s not clear what is causing the increase in reported cases.

For the full press release from the State of Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, click here.

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