Hepatitis A Cases Spike In Homosexually Active Men In Michigan

DETROIT (WWJ) – State health officials investigating a hepatitis A outbreak in southeast Michigan are reporting a concerning increase in cases among men who are sexually active with other men.

There have been 11 such cases so far in October, compared to a total of 10 over the preceding 14 months, according to a release from the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services on Friday.

The MDHHS says that about 85 percent of hep A cases since August 2016 involved hospitalizations; but more than 95 percent of cases specifically among men sexually active with men involved hospitalizations.

Health officials are urging all men who engage in sex with other men to get vaccinated

Vaccination is also recommended for the following at–risk individuals:

  • Health care workers who have direct contact with patients
  • People who use injection and non-injection illegal drugs
  • People who participate in commercial exchange of sexual practices
  • People who are homeless or in transient living situations
  • People who are or have recently been incarcerated
  • Close personal contacts (e.g., household, sexual) of hepatitis A patients
  • Food handlers
  • People with liver diseases, such as hepatitis B or hepatitis C. Persons with chronic liver disease have an elevated risk of death from liver failure.
  • Any person who wishes to be immune to hepatitis A
  • People who live, work, or recreate in SE Michigan and are concerned about getting hepatitis A

Health officials say hepatitis A attacks the liver and causes symptoms such as abdominal pain, nausea, fever and jaundice.

The virus is most commonly spread from person-to-person by the fecal-oral route. Most infections result from contact with an infected household member or sex partners. Sometimes, infection results from food or drink that is contaminated with the virus. It is not spread through coughs or sneezes. Anyone who has hepatitis A can spread it to others for 1-2 weeks before symptoms appear.

Frequent hand-washing with soap and warm water after using the bathroom and before handling food can help prevent the spread of hepatitis A, health officials say. Appropriately cooking foods can also help prevent infection.

There are ongoing vaccination campaigns in Macomb, Oakland, and St. Clair jails, substance use treatment centers, and homeless centers, as well as discussions with the Michigan Department of Corrections about implementing a vaccination campaign in the Detroit Receiving Center and Detroit Detention Center.

MDHHS is also working with Detroit Health Department and regional Emergency Departments to implement a vaccination campaign targeting at-risk patients.

Learn more about the disease and prevention from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at www.cdc.gov/hepatitis.

© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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