Hepatitis A

Periodic outbreaks of Hepatitis A occur, with the most recent outbreak among adults in Washtenaw and other Michigan counties from 2016 to 2019. The hepatitis A vaccine is extremely effective at preventing infection, but the majority of Washtenaw adults have not been vaccinated. Vaccination and good handwashing can prevent the spread of illness.

About Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is caused by the hepatitis A virus, and it can cause damage to the liver and other health problems. Hepatitis A can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious illness lasting several months.

Symptoms of hepatitis A include:

  • Fatigue
  • Poor appetite
  • Stomach pain or tenderness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dark urine
  • Yellowing of the skin (jaundice). 

Most children less than 6 years do not experience symptoms. Symptoms typically appear 2 to 6 weeks after exposure. Individuals with symptoms should call their provider or seek care.

How is it spread?

The virus is found in the feces (poop) of people with hepatitis A. Most infections result from contact with an infected household member or sex partners. The virus can also be spread by consuming food or drink that has been handled by someone with hepatitis A. Someone who has hepatitis A can spread it to others for up to 2 weeks before symptoms appear.


The best way to prevent hepatitis A is to get vaccinated. Since 2006, the hepatitis A vaccine has been routinely recommended for children. But, the majority of local adults are not vaccinated.

Frequent handwashing with soap and warm water after using the bathroom and before handling food can also help prevent the spread of hepatitis A. 

Get Vaccinated

Call 734-544-6700 to schedule an appointment with the Health Department, or talk to your health care provider. 

Vaccination is recommended for anyone not already vaccinated, and especially recommended for:

  • People at higher risk of exposure to hepatitis A, including:
    • Men who have sex with men
    • People with a history of substance abuse
    • People currently homeless or in transient living
    • People in correctional facilities
    • People with underlying liver disease
  • Food service workers
  • Healthcare workers or first responders
  • Anyone who may have been exposed to hepatitis A

There is no additional charge for the hepatitis A vaccine if you are have Medicaid or Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. There is a small fee ($20) if you are uninsured and at higher risk of exposure. If you have health insurance, please check with your health care provider or pharmacy first. 

Michigan Outbreak

A Hepatitis A outbreak occurred in Michigan from 2016 to 2019, leading to nearly 1,000 cases and 30 deaths. No common sources of food, beverages, or drugs were identified as a potential source of infection.

Additional Information