Michigan sees hepatitis A outbreak in gay men

DETROIT (AP) – State health officials investigating a hepatitis A outbreak in southeast Michigan are reporting an increase in cases among men who are sexually active with men.

There have been 11 such cases so far in October, compared to a total of 10 over the preceding 14 months, the Detroit Free Press reported.

The Michigan Department of Health & Human Services said that there have been more than 450 confirmed cases of hepatitis A in the city of Detroit and Ingham, Lapeer, Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, Sanilac, St. Clair, Washtenaw and Wayne counties since August 2016. About 85 percent of those cases involved hospitalizations. But more than 95 percent of cases specifically among men sexually active with men involved hospitalizations.

“We are seeing a large person-to-person transmission. It’s not that we have one particular food source or one specific drug,” linking all the cases, said Angela Minicuci, a spokeswoman for the department.

The department said that hepatitis A attacks the liver and causes symptoms such as abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dark urine, clay-colored stool, fever, chills and jaundice. Time from exposure to onset of illness is usually 15 to 50 days, and the illness typically lasts several weeks to months.

Health officials are urging all men who engage in sex with men and others who are at risk to get vaccinated, the same guidance provided by the national Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

“Despite this guidance, hepatitis A vaccination coverage among (sexually active gay men) in the United States remains low, leaving many adult men unprotected,” the Health Department said. “There are currently multiple hepatitis A outbreaks among (sexually active gay men) in the United States and Western European countries.”

Other people considered at risk of getting hepatitis A include those who work in health care, use illegal drugs, participate in commercial exchange of sexual practices, are homeless, have recently been incarcerated, are food handlers or have liver diseases.

More in Health

See More