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Hepatitis A cases continue to rise

Another 47 cases were reported to the state last week

Another 47 hepatitis A cases were reported to the state last week, making for 3,125 cases this year.

Hepatitis A cases have risen dramatically this year. By comparison, there were just 548 reports of the disease in all of 2018.

The to-date total for 2019 is larger than the past seven years combined.

Hepatitis A causes liver damage and can lead to hospitalization and death. It is most commonly spread by ingesting food or water contaminated with fecal matter from infected persons. It is also transmitted through sex and the use of intravenous drugs.

The uptick in cases led Surgeon General Scott Rivkees to declare a public health emergency in August.

In his declaration, Rivkees said “the best way to prevent hepatitis A is through vaccination. It is important that we vaccinate as many high-risk individuals as possible in order to achieve herd immunity.”

According to DOH, that includes “individuals with chronic liver disease, clotting factor disorders, and individuals over 60 years of age with a serious underlying medical condition, as determined by their health care provider, in critically impacted counties.”

So far, 283,983 have been administered this year.

Among the hardest hit regions is Tampa Bay. As reported by The Associated Press earlier this month, the region has led the state this year with 466 new hepatitis A cases in Pasco County, 369 in Pinellas County and 145 in Hillsborough.

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