Confirmed Hepatitis A Case in Eaton County

The Barry-Eaton District Health Department (BEDHD) is reporting a confirmed case of hepatitis A in an Eaton County resident, the first during 2017. At this time, it is unknown if the case is related to the ongoing hepatitis A outbreak in southeast Michigan. Additional laboratory testing to confirm or disprove a link to this outbreak is currently underway. The individual is not considered to be at high risk of spreading hepatitis A to others and is undergoing appropriate treatment.

Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable, contagious liver disease. It is often spread through the ingestion of food or water contaminated with infected feces or by oral contact with contaminated objects. Transmission can occur easily among household contacts and sexual partners. Risk factors for getting hepatitis A include homelessness or use of transient housing, illicit drug use, and incarceration. Men who have sex with men and sex workers and their clients are also at high risk. While the risk of getting hepatitis A is higher among these specific populations, BEDHD recommends that all individuals be vaccinated against the disease.

Hepatitis A can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious illness lasting several months. Illness generally occurs two to six weeks after exposure to the hepatitis A virus. Symptoms includes fatigue, abdominal pain, yellow skin (jaundice), dark urine, and pale stool. Some people have no symptoms. Vaccination against hepatitis A and thorough hand washing can prevent infection.

“Outside of vaccination, handwashing is the most important step that everyone can take to protect themselves from hepatitis A,” said Dr. J. Daniel Woodall, BEDHD Medical Director. “With other contagious diseases like the flu, whooping cough, and gastrointestinal illnesses currently in our area, proper handwashing is the key, everyday action that people can take to keep healthy this holiday season.”

People who believe they have been exposed to hepatitis A or who have symptoms should contact their healthcare provider immediately. Anyone who wants to be vaccinated should contact their healthcare provider or BEDHD’s Eaton County office at (517) 541-2630. For more information about hepatitis A, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hav/.

-From the Barry-Eaton District Health Department

Article posted on December 21st 2017.