What You Need to Know: 5 Hepatitis A Cases Confirmed in Northern Michigan
“It is very serious, it is impacting populations that we’re not used to seeing.”
The health department has now confirmed five local cases.
Four of the cases were confirmed in Grand Traverse county, and one in Leelanau County.
Through state lab tests, the health department confirmed this week that the five cases of Hepatitis A reported in Northern Michigan are linked to the larger southeast Michigan outbreak.
“It can easily be spread before someone even has any idea that they’re sick,” Wendy Hirschenberger, health officer for Grand Traverse County Health Department said.
Vomiting, fever, feeling tired and yellowing of the skin and eyes are just a few of the common symptoms of Hepatitis A, a very serious and contagious liver disease.
“They come in really at the stage where they’re severely ill and the disease entity is rather divesting for patients who show up kind of at that stage,” Salah Qutaishat, infection prevention, Munson Medical Center said.
“This one has a very high hospitalization rate so 82 percent of the cases in Michigan so far have been hospitalized and we have experienced a very similar rate of hospitalization for our cases,” Hirschenberger said.
This strain, different than what they are used to seeing by the way its transmitted and the people at risk.
“The populations at risk are the homeless population, the men who have sex with men, so we’re seeing a completely different picture of the Hepatitis A vaccine spread,” Qutaishat said.
But what can you do to protect yourself?
“It’s vaccine preventable and it’s a very safe and effective vaccine, there’s two doses over the course of six months and after the first dose 95 percent of the people are protected and then after the second dose its 98-99 percent,” Hirschenberger explained.
“Also if you know that you’ve been in contact with somebody that had that infection, contact your provider, contact your public health folks, make sure that you are getting the proper information,” Qutaishat said.
Of course washing your hands regularly and not sharing food and drinks with people can also help prevent the spread.
If you have any questions, call one of the numbers or visit one of the websites below.
- Benzie-Leelanau Health Department at (231) 256-0200
- Grand Traverse County Health Department at (231) 995-6131
- Health Department of Northwest Michigan (800) 432-4121