Health officials confirm 319 cases of hepatitis A during outbrea - WNEM TV 5

Health officials confirm 319 cases of hepatitis A during outbreak

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

Michigan health officials are continuing to investigate an outbreak of hepatitis A in the southeast part of the state. 

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) reports from Aug. 1, 2016 to Sept. 15, 2017 there have been 319 confirmed cases of hepatitis A, including 14 deaths.

Of those cases, nearly 86 percent have been hospitalized.

Health officials said those infected by the illness have ranged in age from 20 to 87-years-old. Two-thirds of those cases were men, officials said.

On Sept. 18, the state Medicaid program issued a letter to healthcare providers about the outbreak, testing information and how to prevent the illness.

The letter was sent to more than 5,000 Medicaid-enrolled providers in Detroit, Macomb, Oakland, St. Clare and Wayne counties.

“The Southeast Michigan hepatitis A outbreak remains a top priority for public health officials from both the investigation and prevention standpoints,” said Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive for MDHHS.

So far, no common source of the outbreak has been identified in food or water. Health experts said transmission does appear to be from person-to-person through illicit drug use, sexual activity, and close contact with household members.

Officials said over half of the cases (51 percent) have a history of substance abuse, 28 percent are co-infected with hepatitis C, 15 percent are homeless, and 19 cases (6.4 percent) have a history of recent incarceration.

Vaccination is recommended for the following at–risk individuals.

“Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable disease and in addition to our investigation of current and new cases, our focus is strongly aimed at increasing vaccination in adults, where hepatitis A vaccination is commonly low,” Wells said.

People with hepatitis A are infectious for two weeks prior to symptom onset.

Symptoms include jaundice, fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, and light-colored stools.

Health experts 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 also cause liver failure and death.

Contact your local health department about how to receive the hepatitis A vaccine: 

  • Detroit Health Department, 313-876-4000
  • Macomb County Health Department, 586-469-5372
  • Monroe County Health Department, 1-888-354-5500, Ext. 7800
  • Oakland County Health Division, 1-800-848-5533 or email
  • Clair County Health Department, 810-987-5300
  • Wayne County Communicable Disease Unit, 734-727-7078

For more information, click here

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