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Health

State opens emergency center to fight hepatitis A outbreak

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LANSING, MI (MPRN)--   The state is taking a synchronized approach to fighting the hepatitis A outbreak.

It’s activated two emergency centers. Through the centers, the state will organize a plan to prevent

hepatitis A. It will then guide local public health officials in prevention and investigation of cases.

“This is about public health,” said Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley. “This is about our individuals who are out there just living their lives and we need to make sure that we’re doing everything that we can to prevent the spread of hepatitis A.”

Calley announced the activation Wednesday.  

There have been more than 450 confirmed cases of hepatitis A in the state since August of 2016. State officials report 18 deaths related to the outbreak.

Angela Minicuci is with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. She said one plan of attack at the centers is vaccinations.

“If we can get the high risk populations, those that are most likely to come in contact with hepatitis A strain associated with this outbreak, if we can get them vaccinated we have a good chance of slowing the number of cases and preventing it from spreading,” she said.

Minicuci said this outbreak seems to be mostly spread through person to person contact. Those high risk populations include people who use drugs, the homeless, and people who are incarcerated.  

The outbreak has mainly been in Southeast Michigan, but it has popped up in Ingham County and other areas. Calley said the problem also isn’t limited to Michigan.

“We are seeing increases around the country as well,” he said. “So this kind of approach, being aggressive, makes a lot of sense.”