Florida declares hepatitis A outbreak a public health emergency

Posted on: Tuesday, August 6, 2019 By: KorchekStaff

On Aug. 2, Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees, MD, declared the hepatitis A outbreak in the state a public health emergency.

From Jan. 1 to June 27, 2,034 hepatitis A cases were reported in Florida. The case count has surpassed the hepatitis A count for all of 2018, which was 548. Last week saw 81 hepatitis A cases reported.

Florida has experienced the third-highest number of cases in the country since the CDC first identified outbreaks in 2016. In total, there have been 23,638 cases reported and 233 deaths in the U.S., as of Aug. 2.

"I am declaring this public health emergency as a proactive step to appropriately alert the public to this serious illness and prevent further spread of hepatitis A in our state," said Dr. Rivkees. "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."

The public health emergency declaration urges healthcare providers to screen and recommend vaccination for all high-risk individuals, including people who use drugs, people with chronic liver disease and people who are homeless.

Symptoms of the highly contagious liver infection include jaundice, fever and diarrhea