Hepatitis A cases continue to rise in Florida

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Despite a declaration of a public health emergency last month, Florida continues to see a rise in Hepatitis A cases.

Since Aug. 1, when Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees declared a health emergency, Florida has recorded 261 new cases of the liver disease through Aug. 24, according to the state Department of Health.

Florida is on a pace to record more than 300 new cases in August, marking the fourth month to top that level. It’s a trend that began with 384 new cases in May, 362 cases in June and 355 cases in July, the data shows.

Since Jan. 1, there have been 2,349 new cases in the state through Aug. 24, more than quadrupled the 548 cases in all of 2018, according to state health data.

State health officials say the highest risk from complications from the disease include those with chronic liver disease and residents over the age of 60 with a serious underlying medical condition.

The incident rate is highest among adults aged 30 years to 39. From January 2018 through July, those adults experienced a Hepatitis A infection rate of 34 per 100,000 residents, according to state health data.

Since January, the counties with the highest number of cases include: Pasco (377), Pinellas (349), Volusia (215), Orange (153) and Hillsborough (127).

The liver disease can be contracted from person-to-person contact or indirectly if someone ingests fecal matter infected with Hepatitis A, state health officials said.

The disease can be prevented by vaccines and through diligent hand-washing procedures, particularly after using the bathroom, changing diapers or before preparing food, state health officials said.

Here is a previous Florida Phoenix report on the health crisis.



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