Florida health officials issue hepatitis A advisory after spike in cases

Health officials in Florida have issued a hepatitis A advisory after a spike in cases in the Orlando and Tampa areas.

A statement from the Florida Department of Health urged people, especially those considered at risk, to get vaccinated.

“Since January 2018, 385 cases of hepatitis A virus (HAV) infection have been reported in Florida. This is more than three times the previous five-year average of 126 cases. The increase in hepatitis A cases to date is predominantly in the Tampa Bay and Orlando metropolitan areas,” the advisory said.

In October, Orange County health officials reported a 2,000 percent increase in cases in 2018.

Hepatitis A is a viral illness that affects the liver and is typically spread person to person through fecal-oral transmission.

Symptoms include fever, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, jaundice or yellowing of skin and eyes and dark urine.

The hepatitis A vaccine is a two-shot series with the second one given after six months.

Health officials recommend that the following people be vaccinated:

• All children at age 1 year

• Persons who are at increased risk for infection

• Persons who are at increased risk for complications from HAV

• Users of injection and non-injection drugs

• Persons who are homeless

• Men who have sex with men

• Persons who have chronic liver disease

• Persons traveling to or working in countries that have high or intermediate endemicity

of HAV

• Persons who have clotting-factor disorders

• Household members and other close personal contacts of adopted children newly

arriving from countries with high or intermediate HAV endemicity

• Persons having direct contact with persons who have HAV.