Florida Reports 70 Additional Hepatitis A Cases in One Week

Hepatitis A preventive vaccines include Vaqta, Havrix, and Twinrix
tampa bay filled with boats, looking towards the city skyline
(Precision Vaccinations)

The hepatitis A outbreak in the State of Florida continues to set new records, with Week #17 (4/21/19–4/27/19) reporting 70 new cases. 

These new cases increase the total number of hepatitis A cases confirmed in 2019 to 954.

During 2018, the Florida Department of Health (FDH) only reported 549 cases. 

Most of these hepatitis A cases reported in 2019 are from the Florida counties of Pinellas (319), Pasco (267), and Orange (179). 

Previously, during December 2018, the Florida Department of Health Surgeon General issued a health advisory re-emphasizing the importance of the hepatitis A vaccination. 

During Week #17, 5,121 doses of the hepatitis A vaccine were administered. 

Florida’s hepatitis A outbreak mirrors national trends across the USA, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Since the hepatitis A outbreaks were first identified in 2016, more than 15,000 cases, 8,500 (57%) hospitalizations, and 140 deaths as a result of hepatitis A virus (HAV) infection have been reported by the CDC. 

Most of these outbreaks of hepatitis A are primarily among people who use drugs and people experiencing homelessness. 

As of April 30, 2019, the 4 states which have reported the most HAV cases and related deaths during the 2017-2019 outbreak in the USA include:

Furthermore, during 2018, there were approximately 25 restaurant chains that reported staff worked while infected with hepatitis A. 

People infected with Hepatitis A are most contagious from 2 weeks before the onset of symptoms to 1 week afterward. Symptoms usually start within 28 days of exposure to the virus with a range of 15-50 days. 

The CDC says to get vaccinated if you are at risk of contracting HAV. There are 3 vaccines available in the USA, Vaqta, Havrix, and, Twinrix. 

HAV preventive vaccines are available at pharmacies in most states. 

Additionally, immune globulin can provide short-term protection against hepatitis A, both pre- and post-exposure. Immune globulin must be administered within 2 weeks after exposure for maximum protection. 

Recently, during September 2018, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new formulation of GamaSTAN immune globulin for HAV post-exposure prophylaxis.

Relevant Links: CDC vaccination schedules, CDC price list, how to report vaccine side effects, and international travel alerts.