Oakland County Health Division urges protection from Hepatitis A

Oakland County Health Division reports eight new cases of Hepatitis A in the last week associated primarily with the Farmington Hills area. The Health Division has not yet identified a source, but is investigating potential common factors such as contaminated food, sick individuals, travel, and healthcare exposure.

"These new cases serve as a vital reminder of why it is critical to get vaccinated," said Leigh-Anne Stafford, health officer for Oakland County. "The Health Division urges all residents, food handlers, and healthcare providers to get the Hepatitis A vaccine and to wash hands thoroughly. Ill food workers and health care workers are encouraged to stay home from work, seek medical attention, and report their illness to their employer."

Dr. Pamela Hackert, medical director for Oakland County Health Division said, "The virus is shed in feces and is most commonly spread from person to person by contaminated hands. In addition to vaccination, good hygiene, proper sanitation of surfaces, and proper food preparation are keys in preventing this contagious disease."

Hepatitis A is an infection of the liver caused by a virus and is a vaccine-preventable disease. Symptoms of Hepatitis A include sudden abdominal pain, fatigue, diarrhea, nausea, headache, dark urine, and vomiting followed by yellowing of the skin and eyes. Symptoms may appear from two to six weeks after exposure, with the average time being about one month. In rare cases, those with a pre-existing severe illness or a compromised immune system can progress to liver failure. Individuals are advised to contact their doctor if they have a sudden onset of any symptoms.

To reduce the risk of contracting Hepatitis A:

- Wash hands frequently, especially after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and before preparing and eating food. Rub hands vigorously with soap and warm running water for at least 20 seconds. Handwashing is essential and one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of infection.

- 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.

The Hepatitis A vaccine is available through some health providers, CVS Minute Clinics, Oakland County Health Division offices in Southfield and Pontiac, and many pharmacies. Call ahead to ensure your health care provider or pharmacy has the vaccine available.

Health Division offices are located at the following addresses:

- North Oakland Health Center, 1200 N. Telegraph Road, Building 34 East, Pontiac.

- South Oakland Health Center, 27725 Greenfield Road, Southfield.

Payment options include cash and credit card. There is a $5 fee per visit, per client as well as additional fees for credit card payments. Vaccine fees are charged to individuals who are not eligible for federal and/or state programs that cover vaccination costs. The Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program offers vaccines at no cost for eligible children up to 18-years-old. If you have insurance, check with your health care/insurance provider for possible benefit coverage. No one will be denied access to services due to inability to pay. A discounted/sliding fee schedule is available.

For additional information about Hepatitis A, visit www.oakgov.com/health or call Nurse on Call at 800-848-5533, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For up-to-date public health information, follow @publichealthOC on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Published: Fri, Aug 18, 2017

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