Barry-Eaton District Health Department Promotes Hepatitis Awareness Month

May 1, 2024

In recognition of Hepatitis Awareness Month this May, Barry Eaton District Health Department (BEDHD) is intensifying efforts to educate and empower the community about the dangers of hepatitis and the importance of testing and treatment. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now advises hepatitis C Virus (HCV) testing for all adults at least once in their lifetime, as well as hepatitis B and C testing for all pregnant individuals during each pregnancy, regardless of age.

Hepatitis is a serious inflammatory condition of the liver, most often caused by viral infections. When the liver is inflamed or damaged, it’s function can be affected. The most common types of viral hepatitis are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C, each with its own transmission routes and health impacts. In the United States, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C are the most prevalent viral strains. Despite similar symptoms across all viral hepatitis types, their modes of transmission, treatments, and severity levels vary.

  • Hepatitis A: Typically transmitted through contaminated food or water, hepatitis A can cause mild to severe illness and is preventable through vaccination and proper hygiene practices. People who get hepatitis A may feel sick for a few weeks to several months, but usually recover completely and do not have lasting liver damage.
  • Hepatitis B: This type of hepatitis is spread through contact with infected blood, bodily fluids, or from mother to child during childbirth. Chronic hepatitis B can lead to liver damage, liver cancer, and even death. However, vaccination is highly effective in preventing hepatitis B infection. Most case of hepatitis B do not show symptoms, so they might not know they are infected; if symptoms do appear, they can include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, dark urine, pale stool, joint pain, and yellowing of the skin and eyes.
  • Hepatitis C: Primarily spread through blood-to-blood contact, hepatitis C can result in both acute and chronic infections. If left untreated, it can lead to serious liver complications, including cirrhosis and liver cancer. Early detection through testing is crucial for effective treatment and management. Most people with hepatitis C may not show symptoms and could be unaware of their infection. Symptoms, if present, may include yellowing of the skin or eyes, loss of appetite, upset stomach, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever, dark urine, pale stool, joint pain, and fatigue

As part of our commitment to public health, BEDHD has both the hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccines available by appointment at both our offices. Two doses of the hepatitis A shot and three doses of the hepatitis B shot are recommended for children by doctors as the best way to protect against hepatitis A and B. It’s never too late to get vaccinated! Call BEDHD today to make an appointment: Barry County at (269) 945-9516 or Eaton County at (517) 541-2630. Individuals should contact their primary care provider for hepatitis testing. More information about viral hepatitis can be found at: