Florida is one of some sixteen states that have declared a hepatitis A outbreak in recent years and since Jan. 2018, state health officials have reported some 736 outbreak cases. In December, Florida state health officials issued a health advisory and noted at that time the Tampa Bay and Orlando metropolitan areas were particularly hard hit.
The latest information from the Hillsborough County Health Department, where Tampa is located, have reported 103 cases since Jan. 2019. To put this in perspective, over the past five years, Hillsborough County has reported an average of 6 cases of hepatitis A each year.
Seven out of 10 patients are male and approximately half of the cases with known risk factors report use of street drugs (injection or non-injection).
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Florida health officials remind the public that hepatitis A infection is a vaccine-preventable illness. 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.
The following groups are considered high-risk for hepatitis A, in addition to persons who are in close contact with any of the below risk groups are considered high risk and should consider receiving the hepatitis A vaccine, to include: Users of injection and non-injection drugs, persons who are homeless or in transient living, persons with direct contact with someone infected with hepatitis A, persons who have chronic liver disease, correctional facility inmates and men who have sex with men.
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