The Ingham County Health Department is fighting the hepatitis A outbreak with an educational campaign.
The campaign will utilize billboards, newspaper ads, texts, an online quiz and social media to inform the public about the contagious liver disease.
“Anyone can get hepatitis A, but some people are at greater risk in this outbreak,” said Ingham County Health Officer Linda S. Vail. “We want those at high risk to get vaccinated, but everyone should be aware of hepatitis A and take care to prevent it by properly washing their hands.”
Since the outbreak started in Metro Detroit 18 months ago, more than 800 people have been infected with hepatitis A, with 25 deaths. Ingham County alone has seen 26 cases and one death.
Hepatitis A is often spread through the ingestion of food or water contaminated with infected feces, oral contact with contaminated objects, and sex. Those at high risk include: people who are homeless or use transient housing, people who use illicit drugs, people who were recently incarcerated, and men who have sex with men.
The Ingham County Health Department is offering free vaccinations to people who identify as high risk. They can present the code "Campaign18" to the Immunization Clinic to receive the vaccine.
Illness generally occurs two to six weeks after exposure to the hepatitis A virus and includes fatigue, fever, stomach pain, nausea and vomiting, yellow skin and eyes, dark urine and pale stool. Hepatitis A can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious illness lasting several months. Some people have no symptoms. Vaccination and thorough hand washing can prevent infection.