DETROIT – There is a hepatitis A outbreak in Michigan right now.
The Department of Health last week said Michigan has had more than 800 cases, including 25 deaths. Two cases of hepatitis A have been confirmed just this week at Wayne State University and at a high school in Royal Oak.
If you are concerned that you or someone you know may be infected, here are symptoms to watch for, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Dark urine
- Clay-colored stools
- Joint pain
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
The CDC said these symptoms can come on suddenly. They also say most children younger than age 6 do not have symptoms when they have hepatitis A. When symptoms are present, young children typically do not have jaundice but most older children and adults with hepatitis A have jaundice.
How will you know if you have hepatitis A?
The CDC says only a doctor can determine if you have hepatitis A by discussing your symptoms and taking a blood sample. So get yourself to a doctor as soon as you can if you are experiencing those symptoms.
Hepatitis A vaccination
The best way to prevent hepatitis A is through vaccination with the hepatitis A vaccine, the CDC says.
From the CDC:
To get the full benefit of the hepatitis A vaccine, more than one shot is needed. The number and timing of these shots depends on the type of vaccine you are given. Practicing good hand hygiene – including thoroughly washing hands after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and before preparing or eating food – plays an important role in preventing the spread of hepatitis A.
Who should get vaccinated against hepatitis A?
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends hepatitis A vaccination for the following people:
- All children at age 1 year
- Travelers to countries where hepatitis A is common
- Family and caregivers of adoptees from countries where hepatitis A is common
- Men who have sexual encounters with other men
- Users of recreational drugs, whether injected or not
- People with chronic or long-term liver disease, including hepatitis B or hepatitis C
- People with clotting-factor disorders
- People with direct contact with others who have hepatitis A
- Any person wishing to obtain immunity (protection)