Hepatitis A outbreak tied to Farmington Hills

Oakland County Health Division last week issued a warning after identifying eight new cases of Hepatitis A that are connected with the Farmington Hills area.

An investigation is underway to determine the source of the outbreak.

Symptoms of Hepatitis A, a liver disease caused by a virus, 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. Anyone with a sudden onset of any symptoms should contact his or her physician.

“These new cases serve as a vital reminder of why it is critical to get vaccinated,” Leigh-Anne Stafford, health officer for Oakland County, said in a press release. “The Health Division urges all residents, food handlers, and healthcare providers to get the Hepatitis A vaccine and to wash hands thoroughly. All food workers and healthcare 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.”

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, trash cans, 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, which 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 healthcare provider or pharmacy has the vaccine.

For more information about Hepatitis A, visit oakgov.com/health or call Nurse on Call at 800-848-5533, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m.