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How Michigan is fighting hepatitis A to prevent its spread

Chandra Krishnan
A strain of hepatitis under a microscope. Hepatitis A has been spreading rapidly in parts of Michigan.

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley today activated the State Emergency Operations Center to coordinate the state’s response to an outbreak of hepatitis A.

The disease has hit Southeast Michigan pretty hard over the past 15 months, and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) wants to keep this outbreak from spreading across the state.

Jay Fiedler joined Stateside to talk about the outbreak. He’s the manager of the Surveillance and Infectious Disease Epidemiology Section at MDHHS.

Listen to Stateside's full conversation above, or read highlights below.

On the spread and symptoms of hepatitis A

The fairly common and well-known hepatitis A is generally spread through an “oral route,” which means the virus can be spread easily through contaminated hands and surfaces and between groups of people, said Fiedler. Hepatitis A causes “a general disease onset that’s nausea, fever, malaise, abdominal pain,” but its main target is the liver.

On what you can do and the MDHHS’s current efforts to stop the spread

“Number one, more than anything, wash your hands,” said Fiedler. Aside from working with local health departments and providers to increase awareness of the disease, the MDHHS is aiming to get “prompter diagnosis and reporting and follow-up of these cases,” said Fiedler. The MDHHS also has been identifying “high-risk” patients, often those who work in a restaurant, and spread prophylaxis and vaccines in those communities or groups of people.

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