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Western UP Health Department Gets Funding To Fight Hepatitis A Outbreak

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) recently issued $500,000 in grants to 25 local health departments to help combat Michigan’s hepatitis A outbreak.

Local health departments were issued $20,000 each to increase vaccination outreach to high-risk populations and include:

Allegan County Health DepartmentKalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department
Bay County Health DepartmentKent County Health Department
Benzie-Leelanau District Health DepartmentLenawee County Health Department
Berrien County Health DepartmentLuce-Mackinac-Alger-Schoolcraft District Health Department
Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health AgencyMarquette County Health Department
Chippewa County Health DepartmentMidland County Health Department
Public Health Delta & MenomineePublic Health of Muskegon County
Dickinson-Iron District Health DepartmentHealth Department of Northwest Michigan
District Health Department #2Ottawa County Health Department
District Health Department #4Tuscola County Health Department
Huron County Health DepartmentVan Buren-Cass District Health Department
Ionia County Health DepartmentWestern Upper Peninsula Health Department
Jackson County Health Department

Those with a history of injection and non-injection drug use, homelessness or transient housing, incarceration and men who have sex with men are thought to be at greater risk of contracting the disease.                       

“This has been the largest person-to-person hepatitis A outbreak in Michigan’s history, with more than 780 cases,” said Dr. Eden Wells, MDHHS chief medical executive. “Increasing vaccination outreach to high-risk populations across the state is essential to stopping the spread of hepatitis A in Michigan.”

The funding is part of a $7.1 million appropriation approved by the Legislature in late 2017 to address the hepatitis A outbreak. It can be used for staffing to conduct educational and vaccination outreach efforts. Twenty health departments that are part of the outbreak jurisdiction have already been awarded $2.5 million. This latest round of grants covers the remainder of the state’s local health departments. To be considered part of the outbreak jurisdiction a county must have two or more cases of hepatitis A related to the outbreak strain. The 25 health departments receiving this most recent round of funding are not currently part of the outbreak jurisdiction.

Hepatitis A is a serious, highly contagious liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). HAV is found in the feces (poop) of people with hepatitis A and spread by eating contaminated food or water, during sex or by living with an infected person.

Hepatitis A symptoms can include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Belly pain
  • Feeling tired
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes
  • Dark urine
  • Pale-colored feces
  • Joint pain

Getting vaccinated, practicing good hand washing and avoiding sex with infected partners are ways to prevent getting infected. The hepatitis A vaccine is available at local pharmacies, through healthcare providers and at local health departments.

For more information about hepatitis A, including a calendar of vaccination clinics, visit Michigan.gov/hepatitisAoutbreak.

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