30 Dead, 920 Sickened In Michigan Hepatitis A Outbreak, According To Health Dpt.

WWJ News
September 20, 2019 - 2:38 pm
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DETROIT (WWJ) - Wash you hands, know the risks, and consider getting the vaccine. 

That's the word from officials at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services as they continue to investigate an outbreak of hepatitis A, a contagious liver disease, in the state. 

Since this outbreak began in August of 2016, Michigan has seen 920 hepatitis A cases, accoding to the MDHHS. A total of 30 of those people died, officials said, and 80% of them were hospitalized with the illness. 

Officials also note that 52% of Michiganders who got hep A in this outbreak have documented issues with substance use.

There have been seven recent acute cases of hepatitis A in Kalkaska, Grand Traverse and Antrim counties in Northwest Lower Michigan. That strain is not the same as the Michigan outbreak strain, but has been circulating nationally in several other states, the department said. 

On a national level, 30 states are reporting hepatitis A outbreaks since 2016; including Ohio, Indidna and Illinois. Total cases reported nationally are 24,952 with 14,984 (60%) hospitalized and 244 deaths, according to the CDC.

The hepatitis A virus is found in the feces of people with hepatitis A and can spread through contaminated food or water and through close contact with a person who has the virus.

“Although Michigan has not seen the number of cases of hepatitis A that we have during the height of the outbreak, it is essential that people with risk factors for hepatitis A continue to be vaccinated," said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health at MDHHS, in a statement Friday. 

At-risk individuals, including people with a history of injection and non-injection drug use, homelessness or transient housing, incarceration and men who have sex with men. 

To reduce the risk of contracting hepatitis A:

  • Get the hepatitis A vaccine.
  • Wash hands frequently, especially after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and before preparing and eating food. Rub hands vigorously with soap and warm running water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Clean and disinfect all surface areas, especially while someone in the household or workplace has symptoms. Particular care needs to be taken with areas such as toilets, sinks, trash, door knobs, and faucet handles.
  • Do not prepare food if you have symptoms and refrain from food preparation for at least three days after symptoms end.
  • Use your own towels, toothbrushes, and eating utensils
  • Do not have sex with someone who has hepatitis A infection
  • Do not share food, drinks, drugs, or smokes with other people

The hep Avaccine is available through some healthcare providers and many pharmacies. Call ahead to ensure your provider or pharmacy has the vaccine available.

For more information on the hepatitis A outbreak in Michigan, VISIT THIS LINK.  

[2 More Deaths From EEE Virus In Michigan; Residents Urged To Protect Themselves]