LANSING (WJRT) (10/26/2017) - Local and state public health officials tracking a hepatitis A outbreak in parts of Mid-Michigan and Southeast Michigan are warning of an uptick in cases involving men having sex with other men.
A total of 457 confirmed cases of hepatitis A cases have been reported in Ingham, Lapeer, Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, Sanilac, St. Clair, Washtenaw, and Wayne counties, along with the city of Detroit, since Aug. 1, 2016, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
At least 10 of those confirmed cases from Aug. 1, 2016, to Oct. 1 involved men having sex with other men. However, 11 more confirmed cases involving men having sex with men have been reported in October of this year.
Hepatitis A cases involving men having sex with men lead to a higher hospitalization rate at 95.2 percent and involve a younger average age at 38. Half of the cases involve men who admit to substance abuse.
For the entire 457 confirmed cases, patients range in age from 20 to 87 and 63 percent were male. More than 85 percent of people infected were hospitalized and 18 died.
Nearly half of the cases involve illicit drug use. Transmission has primarily been person-to-person with no single source identified.
Health officials are advising men who have sex with men to get vaccinated for hepatitis A. Vaccine is available at local pharmacies, through healthcare providers, or at local health departments.
One dose of hepatitis A vaccine is at least 90 percent effective at preventing infection if given before any exposure to hepatitis A.
State and local public health officials are actively working to educate the medical community about the hepatitis A outbreak and communicate effective measures to curb it.
• On Sept. 18, the state Medicaid program issued a letter to more than 11,750 health care providers and interested parties about the outbreak, testing information, including prevention, testing, and treatment information.
• Vaccination campaigns are under way in the Macomb, Oakland and St. Clair county jails, substance use treatment centers and homeless centers. Discussions are under way with the Michigan Department of Corrections about implementing a vaccination campaign in the Detroit Receiving Center and Detroit Detention Center.
• State officials are working to is working to implement a vaccination campaign targeting at-risk patients at the Detroit Health Department and regional emergency departments.
• Local health departments are partnering with community organizations to provide hepatitis A vaccine to at-risk individuals.