Hepatitis A cases top 500 in Florida this year

While focused on the coronavirus pandemic, Florida health officials this year have seen more than 500 cases of hepatitis A after a massive outbreak in 2019. The state had 508 cases of hepatitis A through Saturday, according to the Florida Department of Health.

That is far below the pace of cases in 2019, but it is substantially higher than the amount of cases in previous years.

“While this outbreak has not yet ended, the weekly and monthly new case totals are trending downward,” the Department of Health said on its website. State Surgeon General Scott Rivkees, who doubles as secretary of the Department of Health, issued a public health emergency in August that warned about the spread of hepatitis A and encouraged citizens to get vaccinated and wash their hands.

Hepatitis A, which causes liver damage, is spread through such things as fecal matter, sexual contact and intravenous drug use. In 2019, the state totaled 3,408 hepatitis A cases, dwarfing previous years. Those previous totals included 106 cases in 2014, 123 cases in 2015, 122 cases in 2016, 276 cases in 2017 and 548 cases in 2018, according to the Department of Health.

Florida had 31 new cases of hepatitis A during the week that ended Saturday. As of an April 18 count, Duval County led the state this year with 106 cases, followed by Volusia County with 47 cases and Brevard County with 35 cases.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.