Hepatitis A Health Alert 2018

As of Oct. 22, 2018 –  58 cases have been reported in Pinellas County and more than 180 in Florida. Similar increases have been reported in other states.

“We are on track to report the highest number of hepatitis A cases since 2005,”  according to Dr. Ulyee Choe, Medical Director at the Pinellas County Department of Health.

Vaccination with the full 2-dose series of hepatitis A vaccine is the best way to prevent HAV infection. Immune globulin (IG) can also be used for short-term protection in certain situations

Hepatitis A is spread person-to-person via feces contaminated with its virus. For example, food prepared by an infected person who doesn’t practice proper hygiene in handwashing could sicken others.

Symptoms include fever, dark urine, yellow-tinged skin or eyes, fatigue and gastric issues. It causes damage to the liver, especially among those who already have liver disease.

Good hygiene to prevent the spread of hepatitis A—washing hands well after a bathroom visit and after changing diapers—lessens the chance that fecal contamination will spread the disease in those who have it. Vaccination is the best protection for those at risk.