A recent Hepatitis A outbreak in southeastern Michigan has moved into the homeless population and is affecting homeless people, including veterans. Hepatitis A is a highly contagious virus that affects the liver.
Hepatitis A is contracted most often from contaminated food or water, or from exposure to someone who has it. In many cases, the individual who has Hepatitis A does not even know he or she has it. Most people recover completely with no permanent liver damage.
Symptoms of Hepatitis A include:
- Sudden nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal pain or discomfort, especially on the upper right side of your abdomen beneath your lower ribs (over the liver)
- Clay-colored bowel movements
- Loss of appetite
- Low-grade fever
- Dark urine
- Joint pain
- Yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes
- Intense itching
Symptoms may be quite mild though and go away within a week or two. However, the infection may last several months in more severe cases. If you are concerned about getting Hepatitis A, ask your doctor if you should be vaccinated.