By: Pooja Sharma

Paul’s Pizza, a carry out and delivery restaurant in Southwest Detroit, Michigan is under investigation after one of its employees was discovered to have contracted Hepatitis A. Detroit health officials were not the only ones to start investigating a Hepatitis case on Tuesday. Oakland Health officials also declared case investigation on a separate pizzeria called Papa Romano’s Pizzeria on Nine Mile at Telegraph Road in Southfield. They also confirmed that an employee has contracted the disease.

They have urged everyone who has dined in any of these facilities – from November 22 – November 26 at Papa Romano’s and from Nov 20 – Nov 25 at Paul’s Pizza – to get a Hep A vaccine before December 10. A vaccination is only effective if given between two weeks of getting the infection. The employee worked at Paul Pizza from November 20 – November 25.

“The difference with this strain, and we’re not really sure exactly why, but we’re seeing a lot more hospitalization and we’re actually seeing quite a few deaths,” said Michelle Thorne who works at the Calhoun County Health Department. “There has been about an 84 percent hospitalization rate and there have been about 19 deaths that have occurred between August and November.” He further added that these numbers are quite unusual with Hepatitis A.

According to a press release by Detroit Health Department, the restaurant has put the employee on leave as soon as he started showing some noticeable symptoms. He will not be allowed to return back to the facilities and start with his work without the doctor’s approval.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human services along with the local health departments of both Detroit and Oakland are currently investigating the outbreaks for complete information. A total of 10 counties are working towards the outbreak. The Department of Health and Services soon followed as it activated its Community Health Emergency Coordination Centre.

According to the Health Department, there is no common food, beverage or any other source that has been identified till now for the outbreaks. The officials have right now concluded that the outbreak is most likely due to person to person contamination or due to illicit drug use. Southeast Michigan is going through a very serious Hepatitis A outbreak. Those who have a history of injection / non-injection drug use, homelessness, transient housing and incarceration are thought to be at a greater risk in this outbreak setting.

Leigh-Anne Stafford, the health division manager, expressed concerns about the outbreak and urged all the resident to get vaccinated on time, especially food handlers and healthcare providers, and to wash the hands thoroughly.

There have been a total of 583 cases since the beginning of the outbreak in August 2016 of Hepatitis A that has caused 482 hospitalizations and 20 deaths. Hospitalization rate is quite high and stands at 82.7% while fatality rate is 3.4%.

OUTBREAK NUMBERS:

  • Primary cases range within the age group of 20-87 years. The median age is 42 years.
  • 63% of the individuals are males.
  • Hospitalization rate is 82.7%.
  • 48% of the total cases reported to have illicit drug use.
  • 27% of those affected were co-infected with Hepatitis C.
  • 3% of the cases were co-infected with Hepatitis.
  • 8.6% of them reported to have gone through recent incarceration.
  • And 7.7% of the cases are men having sex with men.

HEPATITIS A:

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection. It is vaccine preventable but communicable disease that can easily spread through person to person contact. It causes inflammation and affects your liver’s ability to function properly. The incubation period can be around 15-20 days. The most common symptoms of this disease is fatigue, abdominal pain and discomfort, vomiting, dark urine, joint pain, pale colored feces etc.

No specific treatment is generally required for Hepatitis A. Typically, your body will heal itself and the liver will ease out of all the damages within a time period of 6 months.

In order to avoid spreading of this disease, you should make sure that you follow proper hygiene especially if your day to day activities involves handling food at a mass level or personal level. You should get the vaccines for Hepatitis A. And lastly, if you show any symptoms get in touch with a health care provider immediately. If you are infected, do not come in contact with other individuals and take proper rest until your health care provider gives you a green signal.

Here are the details of Oakland and Detroit vaccination clinics arranged by the health division offices.

OAKLAND:

  • North Oakland Health Centre, 1200 N, Telegraph Road, Building 34 East, Pontiac
  • South Oakland Health Centre, 27725 Greenfield Road, Southfield, Detroit, MI

The hours are from noon to 8PM on Mondays and 8:30AM to 5PM from Tuesdays to Fridays. There is no pre-payment and registration available at these clinics. Only walk-in facilities are available.

You can contact the Oakland County Health Division at (800)-848-5533 or email at [email protected]

DETROIT:

The Detroit Health Department, on the other hand, is offering Hepatitis A vaccines to uninsured Detroit residents at both their immunization clinics. It open on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 8 AM – 5 PM. and Wednesday from 9 AM – 6 PM. The clinics are located at:

  • The Samaritan Centre (5555 Conner Street Detroit, MI 48213). Phone No. – 313-410-8142
  • The Family Place (8726 Woodward Avenue Detroit, Michigan 48202). Phone No. – 313-410-7803

The Detroit Health Department recommends that if any non-Detroit residents have visited the pizzerias within the mentioned dates, they should contact their local Health Departments before getting insured.

Here are phone numbers for people living in other counties in case they want to get a vaccination:

  • Monroe County Health Department: 734-240-7800
  • Central Michigan District Health Department: (989) 773-5921
  • Ingham County Health Department: 517-887-4311
  • Lapeer County Health Department: 810-667-0448
  • Livingston County Health Department: 517-546-9850
  • Macomb County Health Department: 586-469-5372
  • St. Clair County Health Department: 810-987-5300
  • Sanilac County Health Department: 810-648-4098
  • Washtenaw County Public Health: 734-544-6700
  • Wayne County Department of Health, Veterans and Community Wellness: 734-727-7078

Who should get the vaccine?

People who are homeless, incarcerated, use injection and non-injection illegal drugs, those who work with high risk populations, those who has had close contact with anyone suffering from HIV and those who suffer from chronic liver disease or clotting factor disorders.

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