Hepatitis A in Homeless Veterans

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:

  • Fatigue
  • 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.

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