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Michigan To Put Half Million Toward Hepatitis A Fight

Wikipedia Media Commons

Michigan continues its fight against a deadly Hepatitis A outbreak.  Nearly 800 people have gotten the disease since August of 2016.  Now the state is giving half a million dollars to areas that have not had an outbreak of hepatitis A – yet.

Twenty-five county health departments will get $20,000 each to increase vaccination outreach.

“Right now, the outbreak is all around us here in Jackson County,” said Richard Thoune, Health Officer for Jackson County’s health department.  “We haven’t had an actual case associated with this outbreak.  But nevertheless, we think it’s only a matter of time before that probably happens.”   

Jackson is one of the counties that will get a grant, along with Bay, Huron, Ionia, Allegan, and others.

The grants are for areas that have had fewer than two cases of Hepatitis A.  The idea is to use the money for vaccinations and awareness about the outbreak.  That’s because people who travel from outbreak areas to non-outbreak areas can spread the disease.

“People travel, and so we know that this has traveled across the state,” said Lynn Sutfin, a spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.  “And we know that it potentially could show up in these communities that have not dealt with Hepatitis A or their populations are unaware of the outbreak.”

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver disease that is spread by eating contaminated food or water, sexual intercourse, or by living with an infected person.

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—Cheyna Roth is a reporter for the Michigan Public Radio network.  Contact WEMU News at734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org

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