Michigan sees huge spike in Hepatitis A; vaccinations urged


An eight-fold increase of Hepatitis A cases in Michigan in recent months has state officials encouraging people to get vaccinated against the sometimes foodborne illness.

People who have recently been exposed to Hepatitis A and who have not been vaccinated previously should be administered a single dose of single-antigen Hepatitis A vaccine within two weeks after exposure, according to the CDC. The average incubation period for Hepatitis A is 28 days, but symptoms can appear 15 to 50 days after exposure. (Photo courtesy of the CDC)

Most children receive Hepatitis A vaccinations during infancy now, but many adults have not been vaccinated. The vaccine is given in two injections a few months apart. Hepatitis A outbreaks traced to frozen strawberries and frozen scallops in the United States sickened hundreds of people, mainly in Virginia and Hawaii in late 2016.

The spike in cases in Michigan is particularly noticeable in the city of Detroit, and counties of Macomb, Oakland and Wayne, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

From Aug. 1, 2016, to March 21, 2017, Michigan has recorded 107 cases of lab-confirmed Hepatitis A in those jurisdictions.

“This represents an eight-fold increase during the same time last year,” according to the state health department. “Ages of the cases range from 22 to 86 years, with an average age of 45 years. Eighty-five percent of the cases have been hospitalized with two deaths reported.”

Individuals with Hepatitis A are infectious for two weeks prior to symptom onset. Symptoms include yellowing of the skin, fever, fatigue, 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.

“Together with our local health partners, we are increasing outreach to vulnerable populations to raise awareness and promote vaccination of hepatitis A,” said Eden Wells, chief medical executive of MDHHS, in the public notice.

“Those who live, work, or play in the city of Detroit, as well as Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne counties are urged to get vaccinated for hepatitis A and talk to their healthcare provider about their risks.”

Health department contact information
Contact your local health department if you have questions or need more information.

Macomb County residents should call the Macomb County Health Department at 586-469-5372.

Oakland County residents should contact the Oakland County Health Department at 1-800-848-5533 or email noc@oakgov.com.

Wayne County residents should contact the Wayne County Communicable Disease Unit at 734-727-7078.

City of Detroit residents should contact the Detroit Health Department at 313-876-4000.

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