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Michigan hepatitis A outbreak sweeps into Kent County

Michigan hepatitis A outbreak sweeps into Kent County. (WWMT/File - MGN)

An outbreak of hepatitis A sweeping through Michigan is making more people sick.

Over 900 cases of hepatitis A have been reported in Michigan and the Grand Rapids area is now part of the outbreak. There are four people in Kent County with the infection.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said 905 cases of hepatitis A have been reported. The MDHHS said 726 people have been hospitalized and 28 have died.

“Our local health department partners have been instrumental in slowing this epidemic through outreach efforts and vaccination clinics targeted towards high risk individuals,” Dr. Eden Wells, MDHHS chief medical executive. “With vaccine available, all residents are encouraged to discuss their risk factors with their doctor or local health department.”

Hepatitis A is an infection of the liver that is spread by consuming contaminated food or water, sex or close contact with an infected person.

“This has been the largest person-to-person hepatitis A outbreak in Michigan’s history,” Wells said. “It’s imperative that Michigan residents get vaccinated to protect themselves and prevent the further spread of this outbreak in Michigan communities. Talk to your health care provider to see if you are at risk of getting hepatitis A.”

It's also important to wash your hands to stop the virus from spreading.

Hepatitis A symptoms include: Nausea, stomach pain, tired feeling, fever, loss of appetite, jaundice or the yellowing of the skin and eyes, dark color urine, pale-colored feces, joint pain.

Kent County Health Department produced a video with more information and Michigan.gov has additional resources.

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