By NewsDesk @infectiousdiseasenews
The Florida Department of Health continues to battle a hepatitis A outbreak that has grew to more than 3,700 cases in two years.
During the week ending November 30, officials reported 38 additional outbreak cases, bringing the total since Jan 2018 to 3,711 and 3,163 since the beginning of this year.
Fifty-one deaths have been attributed to the outbreak through Oct. 31, the second highest death toll in the country.
Since the outbreaks were first identified in 2016, 30 states have publicly reported the following as of December 2, 2019
- Cases: 28,609
- Hospitalizations: 17,316 (60%)
- Deaths: 288
Hepatitis A is caused by a contagious virus, the hepatitis A virus (HAV) that infects the liver—it 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 their hands after going to the bathroom, feces can get on their hands and can transfer to objects, food and drinks. When these things are shared, other people can unknowingly swallow the virus. If a person who has the virus comes in close contact or touches other people—this includes sex—the virus can also spread.
CDC says 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