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FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH ISSUES HEPATITIS A HEALTH ADVISORY, ENCOURAGES VACCINATION

November 28, 2018

Brooksville, Fla.—The Florida Department of Health (department) today issued a health
advisory
to inform the public of an increase in hepatitis A cases in Florida and outbreaks
reported across the country. The advisory reemphasized the importance of the hepatitis A
vaccination.


Since January 2018, 385 cases of hepatitis A virus infection have been reported in Florida. This is more than three times the previous five-year average of 126 cases. Florida’s cases are
beginning to mirror national trends as local and state health departments across the country
have worked closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to respond to
similar outbreaks since March 2017.


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.

Visit the Florida Department of Health in Hernando County at our Brooksville or Spring Hill locations. 300 South Main Street, Brooksville and 7551 Forest Oaks Blvd. Spring Hill.

Schedule an appointment for vaccines by calling 352-540-6800.


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:
Jaundice (yellowing skin and whites of eyes)
Fever
Diarrhea
Fatigue/tired
Loss of appetite
Nausea and vomiting
Stomach pain
Dark-colored urine
Pale or clay colored stool


How is hepatitis A treated or hepatitis A infection prevented?


Hepatitis A vaccine is the best method of preventing infection.
No medicines can cure the disease once symptoms appear. People with hepatitis A
symptoms should seek medical care immediately.
Most people get better over time but may need to be hospitalized.
Previous infection with hepatitis A provides immunity for the rest of a person’s life.
People that are exposed to hepatitis A may be given vaccine or immune globulin within
14 days of exposure to prevent infection.