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Published On: Tue, Sep 10th, 2019

Florida: Hepatitis A outbreak tops 3,000, Pinellas and Pasco report the most

By NewsDesk @infectiousdiseasenews

The hepatitis A outbreak in Florida increased by 49 cases last week, bringing the state total since Jan. 1, 2018 to 3,009–only the third state to eclipse the 3,000 case mark (Kentucky and Ohio).

outbreak

Image/CDC (cropped)

In addition, officials report 39 fatalities linked to the outbreak through the end of August this year.

Since January 2018, five counties have reported more than 200 outbreak cases–Pinellas (467), Pasco (451), Orange (250), Volusia (228) and Hillsborough (216).

Florida Vibrio cases rise to 19, 1st death reported in Hillsborough County

Hepatitis A is caused by contagious virus that infects the liver, and can lead to serious liver problems.

The virus spreads through the feces of people who have the virus. If a person with the virus doesn’t wash his or her hands after going to the bathroom, feces can transfer to objects, food, drinks or drugs. When these things are shared, other people can unknowingly swallow the virus. If a person who has the virus comes in close contact with others—like during sex—the virus can also spread.

According to the CDC, the following groups are at highest risk for acquiring HAV infection or developing serious complications from HAV infection in these outbreaks and should be offered the hepatitis A vaccine in order to prevent or control an outbreak:

  • People who use drugs (injection or non-injection)
  • People experiencing unstable housing or homelessness
  • Men who have sex with men (MSM)
  • People who are currently or were recently incarcerated
  • People with chronic liver disease, including cirrhosis, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C

Nationally, since the outbreaks were first identified in 2016, 30 state have reported more than 25,000 cases, with six out of 10 requiring hospitalization, and 254 deaths.

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