The gloves are not optional; photo via Adobe Stock
Florida had 53 newly reported hepatitis A cases last week, bringing the total number of cases this year to 2,791 as of Saturday, numbers from the state Department of Health show.
According to Florida Health, hepatitis A is caused by a 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, and if a person with the virus doesn’t wash their hands after going to the bathroom, feces can get on their hands and can transfer to objects, food and drinks, where other people can unknowingly swallow the virus. The virus can also spread between people who come into close contact, including through sex.
The areas with the biggest upticks last week were Volusia and Citrus counties, which had an additional seven and five cases, respectively, according to a running News Service of Florida analysis of the weekly data. That brought the total number of cases this year in Volusia and Citrus counties to 251 and 76, respectively.
Orange County has had 172 cases so far in 2019.
Image via floridahealth.gov
Pasco County, which leads the state in hepatitis A cases, had just one new case reported last week, bringing its total to 398. Nearby Pinellas County, which has had 369 cases this year, did not report any additional cases last week.
Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees issued a Public Health Emergency in August to address the massive increase in hepatitis A cases in Florida over the past year. Hepatitis A is a virus that affects the liver and can be deadly. It is spread through such things as food or drinks that have been contaminated with fecal matter from people with hepatitis A, or from close contact with infected people. It also can be spread through sex and intravenous drug use.
Get vaccinated for hepatitis A if you could come in contact. | Photo via Adobe Stock
Rivkees has used $3 million to hire additional workers to help provide vaccinations to at-risk populations in an effort to stop the spread of the virus. The at-risk populations include homeless people and drug users. Rivkees’ goal is to vaccinate 80 percent of the at-risk populations, or about 392,000 people. The latest data shows that 243,905 people have been vaccinated in 2019.
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Hepatitis A virus illustration via Adobe Stock