ALLEGAN, Mich. (WOOD) — Health officials say the first confirmed case of hepatitis A in Allegan County is linked to an outbreak in southeast Michigan.
The Allegan County Health Department said the person is not considered to be at high risk of the spreading the contagious liver disease to others at this time.
According to data posted on the state health department’s website, there have been 692 confirmed cases of hepatitis A since August 2016. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says Ionia, Kent and Van Buren counties each have one confirmed case while Calhoun County has three cases. The case in Kent County happened in November.
Calhoun County is the only county in West Michigan to have been added to the state’s designated hepatitis A outbreak area.
Hepatitis A attacks the liver. It can cause fatigue, fever, nausea or loss of appetite, abdominal pain, joint pain, and jaundice. Most people recover, but some cases can advance to liver failure and death. If you think you’ve been exposed to hepatitis A or start showing symptoms, call your doctor immediately.
Health officials say it looks like the disease is spreading directly from person to person or through drug use.
The two best ways to fight the outbreak are to wash your hands frequently and thoroughly and to get vaccinated. Health officials say the following groups are at the highest risk to contract the disease and should get vaccinated:
- Persons who:
- are homeless or in transient living,
- are incarcerated,
- use/have used injection and non-injection illegal drugs,
- have close contact, care for, or live with someone who has hepatitis A,
- have sex with someone with hepatitis A,
- travelers to countries with high or medium rates of hepatitis A,
- have a chronic liver disease, such as cirrhosis, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C,
- persons who have clotting factor disorders, or persons who
- work with the high risk populations listed above (e.g., healthcare workers, jail staff, etc.),
- Men who have sex with men.
- Food handlers: Food handlers are not inherently at higher risk for getting Hepatitis A. However, given food handlers serve large numbers of people and Hepatitis A can be spread through contaminated food or water, food handlers are recommended to be vaccinated.
If you want to be vaccinated against hepatitis A, contact your health care provider or local health department.