Hepatitis A outbreak leads Michigan to launch emergency plan

Posted at 2:10 PM, Oct 31, 2017

DETROIT — The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is activating an emergency plan in response an outbreak of hepatitis A.

The number of cases continues to rise in Michigan. 

The department is activating what is called the Community Health Emergency Coordination Center.

"To help coordinate Michigan’s response to the hepatitis A outbreak, we are opening the Community Health Emergency Coordination Center to assist the multiple local public health jurisdictions involved in the response and prevention of further cases," said MDHHS Director Nick Lyon.

The emergency coordination center will provide support to health departments, hospitals, EMS and other health care providers.

Health care providers are asked to encourage hepatitis A vaccination.

"We know that the hepatitis A vaccine is more than 90 percent effective in protecting someone who may be exposed to hepatitis A," said Dr. Eden Wells, Chief Medical Executive with the MDHHS. "Without a single source associated with these cases, the importance of vaccination and proper hygiene is vital to ensuring we stop the person-to-person spread of hepatitis A." 

There have been 457 confirmed cases of hepatitis A since August 1, 2016. This number includes 18 fatalities associated with the outbreak and affected a number of cities; City of Detroit, Huron, Ingham, Lapeer, Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, Sanilac, St. Clair, Washtenaw, and Wayne Counties reported to MDHHS.

Hepatitis A is an infection of the liver caused by a virus and is a vaccine-preventable disease.

Symptoms may appear from two to six weeks after exposure, with the average time being about one month. They include sudden abdominal pain, fatigue, diarrhea, nausea, headache, dark urine, and vomiting followed by yellowing of the skin and eyes.

To reduce the risk of contracting Hepatitis A, health officials recommend the following points of emphasis:

*Wash hands frequently, especially after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and before preparing and eating food.

*Clean and disinfect all surface areas if someone in the household or workplace has symptoms., especially areas such as toilets. sinks, trashcans, doorknobs and faucet handles.

*Do not prepare food if you have symptoms and refrain from food preparation for at least three days after symptoms have ended, or two weeks after onset of clinical symptoms, whichever is longer.

*Get the Hepatitis A vaccine.