Michigan Is Tackling Hepatitis During May

Governor Snyder urges Michiganders to participate in Hepatitis Testing Day
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(Precision Vaccinations)

To help increase the awareness of hepatitis, Governor Rick Snyder and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) are joining the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to proclaim May as Hepatitis Awareness Month.

The mission of this initiative is “To bring together science and public-health practices to eliminate viral hepatitis.”

More than 4 million Americans are living with chronic hepatitis, but up to 50 percent of them may not know it.

"With May being declared Hepatitis Awareness Month, pharmacists should take this opportunity to better educate our patients about the different types of hepatitis, and the signs/symptoms, detection and prevention thereof,” said Alexandria Duffield, Pharm.D. MTM Clinical Pharmacist and Immunization Specialist, Brookshire Grocery Company.

“It is vital that our ‘main-street’ platform be readily available to answer any hepatitis question."

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“Hepatitis” means inflammation of the liver, which is a vital organ that processes nutrients, filters the blood, and fights infections. And, when the liver is inflamed or damaged, its function can be affected, says the CDC.

Gov. Snyder is urging Michiganders to participate in Hepatitis Testing Day, which is on May 19, 2018, if they feel they might be at risk of contracting the disease.

The most common types of viral hepatitis are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C, but there are also types D and E.

The only way to know if you are infected is with a blood test.

“People can live for decades without symptoms, but over time chronic hepatitis can cause serious health problems,” said Dr. Eden Wells, MDHHS chief medical executive.

“Michigan residents are urged to learn the facts about hepatitis, particularly the steps they should take to protect themselves and how to identify their risk of the disease.”

The Hepatitis A Virus (HAV) is found in the feces of people with hepatitis A. HAV can spread through contaminated food or water and through close contact with a person who has the virus.

Michigan has been experiencing an outbreak of hepatitis A since August 2016. As of May 16, 2018, there have been 836 reported cases, 671 hospitalizations, and 27 deaths. 

Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable disease and MDHHS encourages HAV vaccination for at-risk individuals including those with a history of injection and non-injection drug use, homelessness or transient housing, incarceration and men who have sex with men. 

The Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) is transmitted from person to person through contaminated blood or body fluids. HBV can spread from infected mothers to their infants at birth, through unprotected sex or through contact with blood or body fluids of a person who has the virus.

In Michigan, 1,301 newly HBV cases were reported in 2017.  Although they make up only 3 percent of Michigan’s population, persons of the Asian race represented nearly 30 percent of all new HBV diagnoses reported in 2017.

Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) is a blood-borne pathogen; however, unlike hepatitis A and B, there is no vaccine available for HCV.

HCV is transmitted from person to person through the contaminated blood of an individual who is infected. The primary risk factor for HCV transmission is sharing needles, syringes or drug preparation equipment.  

In 2017, 1,985 persons aged 18-29 were newly diagnosed with HCV, compared to 882 in 2010.

In recognition of Hepatitis Awareness Month, MDHHS urges all Michigan residents to:

  • Learn the facts about hepatitis 
  • Learn your risk for hepatitis and take the CDC’s 5-minute online Hepatitis Risk Assessment tool 
  • Get tested if you are at risk. Ask your healthcare provider for the test or find a hepatitis B or C testing and treatment site near you using the CDC’s testing site locator 
  • Protect yourself and your loved ones from hepatitis B. Ask your healthcare provider for the hepatitis B vaccine
  • Find out if you are at-risk for hepatitis A. If you are at risk, get vaccinated

Most pharmacies offer these hepatitis vaccines.

And, if you would like to schedule a vaccination appointment, please click here.

The CDC Vaccine Price List provides hepatitis vaccine contract prices and general information, and vaccine discounts can be found here. 

But, vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects, says the CDC. People are encouraged to report negative side effects of vaccines to the FDA or CDC.

For more information on the hepatitis A outbreak in Michigan, visit Michigan.gov/hepAoutbreak.