TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The number of Florida cases of hepatitis A has been steadily increasing, with the largest concentration of the Tampa Bay outbreak being reported on the website of the US Department of Health.
The outbreak of infectious liver disease started in 2018 and has accelerated this year. As of April 13, there were 811 cases in Florida this year, exceeding the total of 548 cases in 2018. In comparison, the state had 122 cases in 2016 and 276 cases in 2017.
The Department of Health said 60 cases were reported during the week of 7 to 13 April.
From January 1, 2018, to April 13, 2019, the Pinellas district had the largest number of cases in 300 cases, according to the Ministry of Health. This was followed by Pasco County with 230 cases, Orange County with 170 cases and Hillsborough County with 153 cases.
SHORTCUT: Data from the Department of Health of Florida
The outbreak has recently attracted attention, in part due to cases discovered in Martin County. Governor Jeanette Nunez appeared at a press conference in Martin County on April 12, saying that the state would "not turn it upside down" as it investigates the outbreak.
For example, the disease can spread through food or drinks that have been contaminated with fecal matter by people with hepatitis A.
Nunez and other officials called on people to get vaccinated against the disease.
Beverly Donahue has worked in the hospitality industry for 35 years and said it is important that people have proper hygiene, especially when dealing with food.
"They go to the bathroom, all the staff have to wash their hands before they come out," Donahue said. "This is something that someone in the industry employs – we are aware of that."
Dana Henning, a Community Health Nurse, most people with the condition get better in two to six months. Common symptoms include:
- Yellow skin, eyes
- stomach pain
- Loss of appetite
For the prevention of hepatitis A, a vaccine is available. There are no medications for treatment.
Since June 2018, the Georgia Department of Public Health has detected more than 250 acute hepatitis A viral infections nationwide. This is more than nine times the total of 24 infections identified in 2017.
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