September 22, 2017

Hepatitis A Outbreak in Oakland County, Michigan Grows

Eight new cases of hepatitis A in the last week have been diagnosed in Oakland County, Michigan, according to the Health Division. Food Poisoning Bulletin reported in March 2017 that there were skyrocketing cases of the viral illness in that county, along with the counties of Wayne and Macomb and in Detroit itself.

Hepatitis A DefinitionThese eight new cases are associated with the Farmington Hills area. The Health Department has not identified a source of the outbreak, but is investigating contaminated food, sick people, travel, and healthcare exposure.

Leigh-Anne Stafford, health officer for Oakland County said in a statement, “These new cases serve as a vital reminder of why it is critical to get vaccinated.┬áThe Health Division urges all residents, food handlers, and healthcare providers to get the Hepatitis A vaccine and to wash hands thoroughly. Ill food workers and health care workers are encouraged to stay home from work, seek medical attention, and report their illness to their employer”

Dr. Pamela Hackert, medical director for Oakland County Health Division said, “The virus is shed in feces and is most commonly spread from person to person by contaminated hands. In addition to vaccination, good hygiene, proper sanitation of surfaces, and proper food preparation are keys in preventing this contagious disease.”

The hepatitis A virus affects the liver. It is a vaccine-preventable disease. Symptoms of this illness include sudden abdominal pain, fatigue, diarrhea, nausea, headache, dark urine, clay-colored stools, and vomiting along with yellowing skin and eyes. Symptoms usually appear a few weeks after exposure to the virus.

Some people, especially those with liver disease or other pre-existing conditions, can become so ill they suffer liver failure. This illness can be life-threatening.

To reduce the risk of contracting this illness, it’s essential that you wash your hands often, especially after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and caring for someone who is sick. Always wash your hands well with soap and warm running water for at least 20 seconds before preparing food or eating.

If you have the symptoms of this illness, see your doctor. Do not prepare food for other and refrain from food preparation for at least three days after symptoms have ended.

The most important way to prevent this illness is to get the hepatitis A vaccine. The Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program offers the shot at no charge for eligible children up to these of 18. No one will be denied access to services due to inability to pay, according to the press release.

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