November 20, 2017

Hepatitis A Outbreak in Southeast Michigan

The hepatitis A outbreak in Southeast Michigan continues to grow. As of October 12, 2017, there are 397 cases in City of Detroit, and counties of Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, Wayne, and St Clair. Most of those patients have been hospitalized; 320, or 85.6%. And 15 people have died.

Hepatitis A Definition

Many of those sickened include the homeless, people with documented substance abuse, but some are healthcare workers and food workers. Most of the cases are male.

Officials have not said if the four cases of food workers we have reported on are part of this larger outbreak. Those cases worked at the Meijer store in Mount Pleasant, Cardamom restaurant in Ann Arbor, and food workers at Uncle Paul’s Pizza at 21215 Mack Avenue in Grosse Pointe Woods, and Cabbage Patch Cafe & Catering at 15110 Kercheval Avenue in Grosse Pointe Park. No common sources of food, beverages, or drugs have been identified as a potential source for this outbreak.

Hepatitis A is a serious and very contagious disease that affects the liver. The virus is found in feces of infected people. It is transmitted through contaminated food and water, during sex, or by living with an infected person. Symptoms of the illness begin 15 to 50 days after exposure, and can last for weeks or months.

Sy8mtoms of the illness include nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, tiredness, a fever, loss of appetite, weight loss, yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice), dark urine, clay-colored stool, and joint paint. The disease is preventable through vaccination. Public health officials are recommending that people get vaccinated against the virus.

To prevent transmission, get a shot, especially if you work with the public, such as teachers, doctors and nurses, and food handlers. Also wash your hands after using the bathroom, after changing diapers, caring for someone who is sick, and before preparing food and eating. Don’t share towels, toothbrushes, and eating utensils with others. Do not share food, drinks, drugs, or cigarettes with others.

If you think you have this illness, see your doctor. Supportive and palliative care is available. Cooperate with local public health officials to help protect others. Unfortunately, ill persons are infectious for two weeks before any symptoms appear.

 

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