Florida Dept. of Health issues advisory after increase in Hepatitis A infections

Posted at 2:15 PM, Nov 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-28 14:15:00-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - Florida health officials say an "substantial" uptick in Hepatitis A infections is prompting a statewide health advisory. 

The Florida Department of Health is issuing a public health advisory regarding an increase in hepatitis A cases in Florida and across the country.

Since January 2018, state officials say 385 cases of Hepatitis A virus (HAV) infection have been reported in Florida, which is more than three times the previous five-year average of 126 cases.

They say the increase in Hepatitis A cases is centered predominantly in the Tampa Bay and Orlando metropolitan areas and say most of the cases do not involve international travel exposures.

Across the country, several states have investigated more than 8,000 outbreak associated cases of Hepatitis A.

HAV is transmitted person-to-person through fecal-oral route, which may include, but is not limited to, some types of sexual contact, and poor hand hygiene after going to the bathroom or changing diapers. HAV can also be spread through fecal-contaminated food or water. 

While most patients with HAV infections will fully recover, 77 percent of recent cases in Florida have required hospitalization.

The CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that the following persons be vaccinated against HAV:

  • 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.

Health care providers are also reminded to immediately report all cases of hepatitis A to your county health department.