Hepatitis A outbreak expands to Saginaw County - WNEM TV 5

Hepatitis A outbreak expands to Saginaw County

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Saginaw County is now among the growing list of counties affected by the hepatitis A outbreak in Michigan.

As of Feb. 6, there have been 736 cases reported in Michigan. Of those cases, 24 people have died and 596 were hospitalized.

Saginaw County has had two confirmed cases of hepatitis A linked to the outbreak, the Saginaw County Department of Public Health said.

The department said the most effective way to prevent hepatitis A is through vaccination and hand-washing.

The disease is an infection of the liver and can be prevented by a vaccine, the department said.

“HAV is found in feces of people with hepatitis A and is most commonly spread by eating contaminated food or water, during sex, or just by living with an infected person,” the department said.

Symptoms include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Feeling tired
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes
  • Dark urine
  • Pale-colored feces
  • Joint pain

As a restaurant manager Elaine Rico knows how quickly hepatitis A can spread.

She runs Rico's Authentic Mexican Takeout in Saginaw. She stands by a firm no tolerance policy when it comes to her own employees displaying symptoms.

"We would stand by the door as they entered, if you're sick then you need to leave. Because seriously, they can infect your whole entire staff," Rico said.

It's not just the symptoms restaurants have to look out for, but cleaning habits too. From the cleaning of the silverware to the touching of the cash register and even the hand sanitizer disposal.

"Our rags are cleaned every hour or so and properly wiped down and we do deep cleans of tables and chairs because you really don't know what's being spread," said Melissa Hartshorn, manager of Uptown Grille in Bay City.

Hartshorn believes in teaching employees proper cleaning procedure. She said it's the best way to prevent hepatitis A and other illnesses from reaching her restaurant and intends to keep it that way.

"We definitely try our best to make sure that someone can come in and enjoy and not have to worry about it and we haven't heard about it here and we're going to keep it that way," Hartshorn said.

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