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This Week's Poll



7-10-19

Hepatitis A in Florida – 1718 cases since January


Staff Reports/FDOH


Hepatitis A is a liver infection caused by the Hepatitis A virus and prevented with the Hepatitis A vaccine. Since January 2019, 1718 cases of Hepatitis A have been reported in Florida. This increase in cases reflects national trends, with more than 20,000 cases identified nationwide.


The Hepatitis A virus is highly contagious and is found in the stool of people who are infected and can survive on surfaces for several months. When hearing about Hepatitis A, many people think of contaminated food or water. That is one way the virus can spread and a common way that international travelers get infected. However, most people don’t know that in the United States, and in Florida, Hepatitis A is more commonly spread from close personal contact with an infected person, which is how people are getting infected in the current outbreaks.


Last week, at Governor Ron DeSantis’ direction, Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez and Florida Surgeon General Scott A. Rivkees have announced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Florida Department of Health (FDOH) are partnering to control the current rise in Hepatitis A cases throughout the state. They are working together taking steps to drastically increase outreach and vaccination to protect the people of Florida.


Infection can occur when someone ingests the virus, usually through close personal contact with an infected person. Hepatitis A is very contagious, and people can spread the virus before they get symptoms such as nausea, stomach pain, and yellow skin or eyes. People who get hepatitis A may feel sick for a few weeks to several months. While most people recover and do not have lasting liver damage, some people need to be hospitalized and even die. People with chronic liver or kidney disease or a compromised immune system are more likely to experience severe illness, leading to liver failure and possible death.


While Hepatitis A can affect anyone, certain groups are at greater risk of being infected in these outbreaks. To help stop the outbreaks, CDC recommends the Hepatitis A vaccine for people who use drugs (including drugs that are not injected), people experiencing homelessness, men who have sex with men, people with liver disease, and people who are or were recently in jail or prison.


According to Clorox, a regular bleach solution will destroy the hepatitis A virus on hard non-porous surfaces (like a plastic toilet seat). They recommend 3/4 cup bleach to one gallon water. Leave on the surface for five minutes, then rinse and air dry.
Preventing Hepatitis A -


Getting vaccinated against Hepatitis A is the cornerstone of controlling the outbreak. Hepatitis A is easily prevented with a safe and effective vaccine that has been recommended since 2006 for all children at age one. This means, however, that many adults did not get the Hepatitis A vaccine as a child and therefore are not protected against the disease.


To help stop the outbreaks, the CDC recommends the Hepatitis A vaccine for people who use drugs (including drugs that are not injected), people experiencing homelessness, men who have sex with men, people with liver disease, and people who are or were recently in jail or prison. The vaccine is recommended for adults at risk, including groups affected in these outbreaks, as well as travelers to certain international countries.


Persons at risk of hepatitis infection who have not been vaccinated or do not know their vaccination status should speak to their health care provider or contact their local county health department.


The symptoms of Hepatitis A include -

Fever, jaundice (yellow skin and eyes), tiredness, loss of appetite, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, diarrhea, and gray clay-colored stool. Those with symptoms of Hepatitis A should visit their health care provider for evaluation.
Practicing good hand hygiene also plays an important role in preventing the spread of Hepatitis A.


Make sure to wash hands after using the bathroom - alcohol-based hand sanitizers do not kill the Hepatitis A virus. Use soap and running water and wash for at least 20 seconds, wash hands after changing a diaper or caring for a person, and wash hands before preparing, serving or eating food.


“The rise of Hepatitis A cases in Florida is an issue that Governor DeSantis and I are fully focused on,” said Lt. Governor Jeanette Nuñez. “We are working closely with Surgeon General Rivkees on this important issue and support his action to expand our response and work with our federal partners. This collaboration with the CDC will increase our vaccination outreach to protect more Floridians from this preventable disease and more aggressively promote awareness on how they can protect themselves and their loved ones.”


For More Information -

For any questions or concerns about Hepatitis A, residents and visitors can call 1-844-CALL-DOH (844) 225-5364), or email hepa@flhealth.gov. The Florida Department of Health has a webpage, floridahealth.gov/hepa to educate Floridians on Hepatitis A prevention and the steps everyone should take to prevent the spread of infection. For more information about the Florida Department of Health, visit FloridaHealth.gov.