Florida Reports 70 Additional Hepatitis A Cases in One Week
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:
- Kentucky: 4,543 cases, and 53 deaths
- West Virginia: 2,503 cases, and 21 deaths
- Ohio: 2,178 cases, and 7 deaths
- Indiana: 1,294 cases, and 4 deaths
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.
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.