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Posted on: February 28, 2018

Stop Hepatitis A: Get Vaccinated

Hepatitis A outbreak graphic. There's a hepatitis A outbreak. Most Washtenaw County Adults are no

There is an outbreak of hepatitis A among adults in Washtenaw and other Michigan counties. The hepatitis A vaccine is extremely effective at preventing infection, but the majority of Washtenaw adults have not been vaccinated. 

Call 734-544-6700 to schedule an appointment. Vaccination and good handwashing can prevent the spread of illness.


What is the Washtenaw County Health Department Doing to Respond?

Reporting Cases in Washtenaw Adults

See current case numbers at washtenaw.org/StopHepA.

Sharing Information about Risks 

Hepatitis A is a serious, highly contagious liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus. The virus is found in the feces (poop) of people with hepatitis A. It is spread by eating contaminated food or water, during sex, or from close contact with an infected person. 

People experiencing homelessness, using illegal drugs, and men who have sex with men are considered at higher risk in the current outbreak. But, there are also cases of hepatitis A among people without these known risks (about 40% statewide). Washtenaw County Health Department encourages all adults to consider vaccination.

Providing Vaccination 

Washtenaw County Health Department can provide vaccination. Call 734-544-6700 to schedule an appointment. 

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, those with a history of substance abuse, those currently homeless or in transient living, correctional facility inmates, and those 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 uninsured, have Medicaid, or are at higher risk of exposure. If you have health insurance, please check with your health care provider or pharmacy first.

Making Vaccination Widely Available 

Washtenaw County Health Department is working with service providers, nonprofits, and restaurants to offer vaccination at community locations. If your organization or business is willing to host a vaccination clinic, please contact us

As of mid-August 2018, Washtenaw County Health Department and area health care providers have given over 15,000 hepatitis A vaccinations to local adults since October 2017 (Michigan Care Improvement Registry).

Contacting Anyone that may have been exposed to Hepatitis A

This is done to alert individuals to the symptoms and to provide vaccination. Vaccination within two weeks of exposure can prevent infection.


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, and 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. It is not spread through coughs or sneezes. Someone who has hepatitis A can spread it to others for up to 2 weeks before symptoms appear.

Prevention

The best way to prevent hepatitis A is to get vaccinated. One dose is almost 95 percent effective at preventing infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Since 2006, the hepatitis A vaccine has been routinely recommended for children. But, only 30% of adults in Washtenaw County have been vaccinated against hepatitis A - which means 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. Freezing does not kill the virus.


Outbreak in Michigan

Learn more about the Michigan outbreak at www.mi.gov/hepatitisaoutbreak. No common sources of food, beverages, or drugs have been identified as a potential source of infection.

Additional Information

Health Department Hepatitis A Webpage
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