By: WCTV Eyewitness News
November 28, 2018
TALLAHASSEE, Fla . (WCTV) -- The Florida Department of Health has issued a health advisory regarding an increase in hepatitis A cases in Florida and outbreaks reported across the country.
Health officials are reminding citizens about the importance of getting vaccinated against the illness.
Since January 2018, officials say 385 cases of hepatitis A virus infection have been reported in Florida, more than three times the previous 5-year average.
The Department of Health issued the following information on Wednesday:
Hepatitis A infection is a vaccine-preventable illness. The primary mode of hepatitis A virus transmission in the United States is typically person-to-person through the fecal-oral route. The best way to prevent hepatitis A infection is through vaccination with the hepatitis A vaccine. Additionally, practicing good hand hygiene—including thoroughly washing hands after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and before preparing or eating food—plays an important role in preventing the spread of hepatitis A.
People who should be vaccinated for hepatitis A include:
All children at age 1 year People who are experiencing homelessness Users of recreational drugs, whether injected or not Men who have sexual encounters with other men People with direct contact with others who have hepatitis A Travelers to countries where hepatitis A is common People with chronic or long-term liver disease, including hepatitis B or hepatitis C People with clotting-factor disorders Family and caregivers of adoptees from countries where hepatitis A is common
Health care providers are reminded to immediately report all cases of hepatitis A to their local county health department to ensure a prompt public health response to prevent disease among close contacts.
The department will continue to work closely with community partners to raise awareness and promote vaccination by:
Providing education to persons who report drug use, homelessness and/or men having sex with men, encouraging proper hand hygiene, and offering vaccination. Collaborating with community partners associated with Federally Qualified Health Centers, local jails, drug treatment centers, homeless shelters, hospitals, The Florida Department of Children and Families managing entities to increase vaccination access to their clients. Providing all high-risk clients who present to department clinics for various services (HIV, STI, TB) with the opportunity to receive hepatitis A vaccination. Offering hepatitis A vaccination to all high-risk clients who seek health care services at a syringe services program. Providing regular updates and messaging to the medical community Continuing to work closely with CDC to ensure we have sufficient vaccine and other resources for an effective response.
What is Hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is a highly contagious disease that attacks the liver. People infected with hepatitis A are most contagious from two weeks before onset of symptoms to one week afterwards. Not everyone who is infected will have all the symptoms. Symptoms usually start within 28 days of exposure to the virus with a range of 15-50 days. Symptoms can include:
How is hepatitis A treated or hepatitis A infection prevented?
For more information, visit www.floridahealth.gov.