Renaissance Festival goer has hepatitis A; officials urge vaccination


Oakland County health officials are urging people who recently attended the Michigan Renaissance Festival to get a hepatitis A vaccine because a person who visited the fair Sept. 1 tested positive for the disease. 

Anyone who was at the fair Sept. 1 or Sept. 2 should get vaccinated by Saturday, if they aren’t already vaccinated, according to the Oakland County Health Division.

The health division will hold vaccination clinics from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the North Oakland Health Center, 1200 N. Telegraph Road, Building 34 East, in Pontiac.

Vaccination can prevent the disease if given within 14 days after potential exposure, said Leigh-Anne Stafford, health officer for the Health Division. Officials said they first learned of the festival attendee’s illness Thursday evening. 

Hepatitis A is an infection of the liver caused by a virus. Symptoms typically occur between two weeks and 50 days after exposure and can last for several weeks to months. The disease can be fatal.

Related:

Michigan’s hepatitis A outbreak is worst in U.S. What you need to know.

Warning: Confirmed case of Hepatitis A at Buffalo Wild Wings in Warren

People who were possibly exposed but unable to get vaccinated by Saturday should watch for symptoms like abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dark urine, clay-colored stool, fever, chills, and yellow skin and eyes (jaundice).

Hepatitis A cases have been sweeping across southeast Michigan since August 2016. Public health officials have said it is one of the largest outbreaks to occur in the U.S. since a vaccine was widely introduced two decades ago.

Statewide, there have been 886 cases, with 713 hospitalizations and 28 deaths. 

The virus is shed in feces and most commonly spread between people through unclean hands that are contaminated with feces.

Stafford said along with vaccination, good hygiene practices and the proper sanitation of surfaces can prevent the spread of hepatitis A.

The annual Michigan Renaissance Festival in Holly regularly attracts more than 250,000 visitors, according to the festival’s website. 

For more information about hepatitis A, visit oakgov.com/health. Nurse on Call is available from 8:30 a.m.to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 800-848-5533 or noc@oakgov.com. 

From the archives: Emaciated camel sparks outrage at Renaissance Fest

Contact staff writer Ann Zaniewski at 313-222-6594 or azaniewski@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter: @AnnZaniewski 

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