DETROIT — The Michigan jail system is fighting the spread of hepatitis A in the state’s three largest counties.

Thousands of jail inmates in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties have opted to receive the hepatitis A vaccine for free in recent months, The Detroit News reported . Health officials have also offered the vaccination through the Detroit Detention Center and Detroit Re-Entry Center.

The vaccine is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and costs the state $25 per dose, said Lynn Sutfin, spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Inmates receive the vaccinations for free because they’re covered through the state agency’s adult vaccination program.

Those in jail are particularly vulnerable to hepatitis A because of the close quarters inmates share, health officials said.

The hepatitis A outbreak began in Michigan in 2016, Sutfin said. More than 110 people contracted the disease that year, compared with an annual average of 65 cases in the previous five years. Numbers for 2017 aren’t available yet, she said.

Southeast Michigan has had 715 cases of hepatitis A and more than 20 deaths since August 2016, according to the health department. The majority of cases are among drug users, homeless people, and current and former inmates, health officials said.

Hepatitis A is a communicable liver disease that’s typically transmitted through contact with feces or consumption of contaminated food or water, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Information from: The Detroit News, http://detnews.com/