Tuesday, Jul 17, 2018
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Medical

Monroe High School student diagnosed with hepatitis A

MONROE — The hepatitis A outbreak in southeast Michigan is spreading and has now infected a student at Monroe High School.

The district released a statement on its web site Thursday stating the student was diagnosed with the virus over the holiday break. Students have returned to school, although classes were cancelled Friday because of frigid temperatures.

The student is receiving treatment and is expected to make a full recovery.

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A student at Monroe High School was diagnosed with hepatitis A over the holiday break.

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"We really guided parents toward their healthcare provider; they're the experts when it comes to hepatitis A," Superintendent Julie Everly said. "On the school side, we sent initial materials out to our families weeks ago due to the outbreak that was declared. We always want to provide our families with the information needed."

Superintendent Everly said doctors will notify the school when it's safe for the student to return. A deep cleaning was performed at the high school, as is the case whenever a student develops a serious and contagious illness. Other cleaning is routinely done with products specifically designed to disinfect.

"Monroe Public Schools is working closely with the Monroe County Health Department to take every precaution to keep our students, staff, and community healthy and safe," the statement read. "According to the MCHD, Hepatitis A is unlikely to be spread by simply sitting in class or having casual contact with an infected person. Nevertheless, we want to take every precaution to ensure that you are aware and informed."

The outbreak started in August, 2016, and has since worsened after two employees at a Monroe Tim Horton's restaurant contracted the virus in December. MCHD nursing director Bridget Huss said there are 15 confirmed cases in the county.

According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, there were 658 cases of hepatitis A in the state tied to the outbreak as of Jan. 4, resulting in 22 deaths.

The MCHD will continue to hold free walk-in clinics for the hepatitis A vaccination until further notice. Those who ate at the Tim Horton's on South Monroe Street from Nov. 21 through Dec. 28, and all food handlers and first responders, are encouraged to receive the vaccine.

"We're still encouraging everyone to use good hand-washing, especially when preparing food and after you use the restroom," Ms. Huss said.

Lucas County Health Department spokesman Shannon Lands said none of the county's six confirmed cases of hepatitis A are related to the outbreak in southeast Michigan. While it's possible the virus could jump the state line, Ms. Lands said that's not something the health department is keeping a close eye on.

"We've been canvassing a lot of restaurants and other establishments, as well as the public, on the importance of hand-washing," Ms. Lands said. "It's one of the best ways to prevent a hepatitis A spread, and it actually works in well with it being flu and norovirus season."

Symptoms of hepatitis A include fatigue, poor appetite, stomach pain or tenderness, nausea or vomiting, dark urine, and jaundice, and usually appear 2-6 weeks after exposure.

Contact Jay Skebba at jskebba@theblade.com, 419-376-9414, or on Twitter @JaySkebbaBlade.

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