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Hepatitis A cases on the rise in Florida

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Posted at 5:21 PM, May 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-15 17:21:09-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Despite giving out nearly 7,000 free Hepatitis A vaccines last week, state health officials say they're seeing an increase in new cases.

The Florida Department of Health reported an additional 92 cases of the contagious liver disease during the week ending May 11.

It's the highest number of cases reported since the outbreak began in 2018.

Leon County has one reported case, but we're told it came into Leon from another county.

The most common way the virus is spread is when people don't wash their hands after using the bathroom.

"I wouldn't say it's something to be alarmed about, but it is certainly something that we at the public health keep our eye on and we push that messaging whenever we think its particularly important to raise awareness and take action," said Christopher Tittel, Pubic Information Officer for DOH in Leon County.

The Hepatitis A cases in Florida are mainly in the south and central parts of the state. Florida's Department of Health reports Pinellas County currently has the highest number with 344 cases reported.

Here are some important instances when to wash your hands to help control the spread of illness:

  • After using the bathroom
  • After coughing or sneezing
  • After cleaning a child who has gone to the bathroom
  • After touching books and money
  • Before preparing food
  • Before eating
  • After petting an animal
  • Why does washing your hands with soap and water work?
  • Soap suspends the dirt and skin oils that trap bacteria
  • Washing motion helps pull dirt and oils free from the skin
  • Running water washes away suspended dirt and oils
  • Additional friction from wiping hands removes more germs
  • Note: If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer wipes or gel.

And here is some important hand washing information:

  • Wet hands
  • Apply soap
  • Rub soapy hands for 20 seconds
  • Scrub fingertips & between fingers
  • Scrub forearm to just below elbow
  • Rinse forearms & hands
  • Use towel to dry hands & forearms
  • Turn off water with towel & throw towel away