DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – Hepatitis A cases in southeast Michigan are rising, with nearly 190 confirmed since last August — including 10 deaths.
It’s described as a “tenfold increase” over the previous 11-month period. Michigan’s chief medical executive, Dr. Eden Wells, says hepatitis A can be prevented with a vaccine, which is recommended as part of the routine childhood vaccination schedule, although most adults don’t have it and may be susceptible to the virus.
The state says there have been nearly 190 cases through June 26. Hepatitis A can spread through sharing drugs, sexual activity and close contact. No common sources of infection have been identified.
Individuals with hepatitis A are infectious for two weeks prior to symptom onset of symptoms which can include yellowing of the skin, fever, fatigue, jaundice (yellowing of the skin), loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine and light-colored stools.
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.
Risk factors for a hepatitis A infection include living with someone who has hepatitis A, having sexual contact with someone who has hepatitis A, or sharing injection or non-injection illegal drugs with someone who has hepatitis A. The hepatitis A virus can also be transmitted through contaminated food or water.
The health department encourages residents in the city of Detroit and Macomb, Oakland Wayne and St. Clair counties to check their hepatitis A vaccination status and talk to their healthcare provider about their risks for hepatitis A.
Contact your local health department if you have questions or for more information:
• Macomb County Health Department at 586-469-5372
• Oakland County Health Department at 1-800-848-5533 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
• Wayne County Communicable Disease Unit at 734-727-7078
• St. Clair County Health Department at 810-987-5300
• Detroit Health Department at 313-876-4000
Learn more about the virus from the CDC at this link.
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