Indiana urges Hep. A vaccine before visiting Michigan


LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Indiana health officials issued a travel warning for anyone headed to Michigan.

In the warning, officials say because of the Hepatitis A outbreak that has plagued the state since August 2016, people should get vaccinated before they come here.

While Michigan health officials agree certain people should be vaccinated, they point out there are some inconsistencies between what the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, as well as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recommend, and the warning put out by Indiana.

Hepatitis A has wreaked havoc on Michigan for more than a year.

“We’re getting close to about 18 months here,” MDHHS Public Information Officer Lynn Sutfin said.

It’s been a deadly outbreak. Health officials say between August 1, 2016 and April 18, 2018, 815 people have been diagnosed with the disease. Around 80 percent of them were hospitalized, and 25 died. 

Compare that to 2011-2015, where officials say there were 327 cases total in that four year period.

Hepatitis A cases have also increased in Ingham County.

“Normally we see a couple of hepatitis a cases a year, just a handful,” Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail said. “ We’ve had 26 so far since this outbreak started.” 

Officials say while there’s no doubt this is a growing problem, they said a travel warning issued by another state may be extreme. They added Michigan has been working with the CDC to get vaccinations to high-risk populations.

“Those populations include folks with injection and non-injection drug use history, individuals who were recently incarcerated, as well as men who have sex with men,” Sutfin said.

Hepatitis A is spread by coming in contact with people who have it. Officials say washing your hands is key to preventing yourself from becoming infected.

The disease can also be spread through food, though officials do not believe the outbreak seen in Michigan is linked to tainted food. 

MDHHS says some of the symptoms can include nausea and vomiting, fever, loss of appetite, as well as yellowing of the skin and eyes.

If you think you may have Hepatitis A, or may have been exposed, officials say to see your healthcare provider right away.

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