University Actions

The Office of Emergency Management is actively engaged with regional partners to monitor, tract and communicate information about Hepatitis A. We are in continued communications with the University’s Chief Health Officer, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Center and the Wayne County Department of Health, Veterans and Community Wellness to monitor the increase in Hepatitis A cases.

Vaccination is strongly recommended and usually consists of two doses, but the vaccine is in short supply, so the CDC recommends individuals should receive just one dose, and that a second dose can be received when the vaccine supply is more plentiful.

If you suspect that you or someone you know may have been exposed to Hepatitis A, you should contact your physician or health care provider by telephone as soon as possible to assess your risk factors and receive guidance regarding further evaluation.

What is Hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is an infectious disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). Many cases have few or no symptoms, especially in the young.  The time between infection and symptoms, in those who develop them, is between two and six weeks.  When symptoms occur, they typically last eight weeks and may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice, fever, and abdominal pain.  Around 10–15% of people experience a recurrence of symptoms during the six months after the initial infection. Acute liver failure may rarely occur, with this being more common in the elderly.

It is usually spread by eating food or drinking water contaminated with infected feces.  It may also be spread through close contact with an infectious person.  While children often do not have symptoms when infected, they are still able to infect others.  After a single infection, a person is immune for the rest of his or her life.  Diagnosis requires blood testing, as the symptoms are similar to those of a number of other diseases.  It is one of five known hepatitis viruses: A, B, C, D and E.

Prevention

Hepatitis A can be prevented by vaccination, good hygiene, and proper sanitation.

The vaccine protects against the hepatitis A virus, in more than 95% of cases for longer than 25 years.  In the US, the vaccine was first used in 1996 for children in high-risk areas, and in 1999 it was spread to areas with elevating levels of infection.

The vaccine is given by injection. An initial dose provides protection starting 2-4 weeks after vaccination; the second booster dose, given six to 12 months later, provides protection for over 20 years. Check with your medical provider for vaccine availability and doses.

In the United States, vaccination of children is recommended at 1 and 2 years of age.  It is also recommended in those who have not been previously immunized and who have been exposed or are likely to be exposed due to travel.

Use of one dose of hepatitis A vaccination

To conserve vaccine supply and maximize the availability of at least one dose of hepatitis A vaccine among persons with hepatitis A exposure risk, the second dose of hepatitis A vaccine can be deferred until supply is secured. Protective anti-hepatitis A virus antibody levels after a single dose of inactivated hepatitis A vaccine can persist for at least 14 years. In addition, a single dose of this vaccine has been shown to successfully control outbreaks of hepatitis A.

 

Signs & Symptoms

Early symptoms of hepatitis A infection can be mistaken for influenza, but some sufferers, especially children, exhibit no symptoms at all. Symptoms typically appear 2 to 6 weeks (the incubation period) after the initial infection.  About 90% of children do not have symptoms. The time between infection and symptoms, in those who develop them, is between 2 and 6 weeks with an average of 28 days.

The risk for symptomatic infection is directly related to age, with more than 80% of adults having symptoms compatible with acute viral hepatitis and the majority of children having either asymptomatic or unrecognized infections.

Symptoms usually last less than 2 months, although some people can be ill for as long as 6 months:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Jaundice a yellowing of the skin or the whites of the eyes owing to hyperbilirubemia
  • Bile is removed from the bloodstream and excreted in the urine, giving it a dark amber color
  • Diarrhea
  • Light, or clay-coloured feces
  • Abdominal discomfort
Treatment

No specific treatment for hepatitis A is known. Recovery from symptoms following infection may take several weeks or months. Therapy is aimed at maintaining comfort and adequate nutritional balance, including replacement of fluids lost from vomiting and diarrhea.

Emergency Management

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