State health data shows hepatitis A cases approach 3,000 in Florida

Hepatitis A vaccine

Florida has recorded nearly 3,000 cases of hepatitis A through the first ten months of this year, according to the state Department of Health.

The state has seen 2,970 case of the infectious liver disease, more than 5.5 times more cases than last year, when 548 cases were reported, state data shows.

Some 272 cases were reported in October, nearly the same as September, when 271 cases were recorded, the data shows.

However, the October and September reports followed four months when more than 300 cases per month were being reported, including a peak of 383 cases in May, the data shows. The state declared a public health emergency in early August.

The outbreak has been concentrated in Central Florida, particularly the Tampa Bay region.

Through Nov. 2, Pasco County has the most cases at 402, followed by Pinellas County at 375 cases and Volusia County at 269 cases, the data shows.

Hepatitis A can be contracted from person-to-person contact or indirectly if someone ingests fecal matter infected with the virus, state health officials say.

The disease can be prevented by vaccination, with health officials reporting more than 265,000 vaccinations have been administered in 2019.

Another prevention method is diligent hand-washing, particularly after using the bathroom, changing diapers or before preparing food, health officials say.

Through September, Florida has recorded 43 deaths from hepatitis A since January 2018, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control Prevention. It’s the second highest total in the nation, following Kentucky’s 61 disease-related deaths, the federal data shows.

Here’s a previous Florida Phoenix story on the hepatitis A outbreak.