Hepatitis A cases still on the rise

The number of hepatitis A cases in Florida continues to climb, with 68 new cases reported to state health officials last week.

According to the latest figures posted by the Florida Department of Health, the number of hepatitis A reported to the state between Jan. 1 and Aug. 10 is now at 2,192. Twenty-five counties accounted for the uptick in new cases over the last week, according to health officials.

The largest number of new cases was in Pinellas County, which reported seven cases of the virus, followed by Volusia and Brevard counties, which each reported six new cases. Pasco County, which has reported more cases than any other county in Florida, reported five new cases last week, bringing its total to 373 cases.

As of Saturday, 10 counties --- Dixie, Calhoun, Bradford, Gadsden, Gulf, Highlands Holmes, Lafayette, Jefferson and Union --- did not have any reported hepatitis A cases, while Suwannee County reported its first case last week.

Hepatitis A can be spread through such things as food or drinks that have been contaminated with fecal matter from people infected with the disease. Health officials have urged people to get vaccinated against the disease. O

n Aug. 1, Department of Health Secretary Scott Rivkees declared a public health emergency related to the hepatitis A outbreak, "as a proactive step to appropriately alert the public to this serious illness and prevent further spread of Hepatitis A in our state."