Florida health officials issue public health emergency amid hepatitis A outbreak

Health officials urging people to get vaccinated

Florida is in the middle of a hepatitis A outbreak.

ORLANDO, Fla. – A public health emergency has been declared in Florida following a Hepatitis A outbreak.

The state surgeon general said there has been a big increase in cases.

The Health Department said several counties are critically impacted by the virus, including Brevard, Lake, Marion, Orange, Sumter and Volusia counties.

Health officials said more than 2,000 hepatitis A cases have been reported in Florida this year.

Officials are urging people to get vaccinated.

Certain people are more at risk for infection than others but anyone can get a vaccine just in case. People at increased risk include:

•    All children at age 1 year 
•    People who are experiencing homelessness 
•    Users of recreational drugs, whether injected or not 
•    Men who have sexual encounters with other men 
•    People with direct contact with others who have hepatitis A 
•    Travelers to countries where hepatitis A is common 
•    People with chronic or long-term liver disease, including hepatitis B or hepatitis C 
•    People with clotting-factor disorders 
•    Family and caregivers of adoptees from countries where hepatitis A is common

The disease is most commonly transmitted through the fecal-oral route, officials said. Symptoms include:

•    Jaundice (yellowing skin and whites of eyes) 
•    Fever 
•    Diarrhea 
•    Fatigue
•    Loss of appetite 
•    Nausea and vomiting 
•    Stomach pain 
•    Dark-colored urine 
•    Pale or clay-colored stool 

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious, incurable disease that attacks the liver. Anyone experiencing symptoms or who believes they might have been exposed should contact a medical provider immediately.

For more information about hepatitis A cases in Florida, click here.