Florida: Hepatitis A outbreak continues in the time of COVID-19

While all attention has been on the COVID-19 pandemic this year, in which Florida has reported more than 61,000 cases and nearly 2700 deaths, the hepatitis A outbreak in the state that began in 2018 continues.

Hepatitis A activity decreased from last month and was similar to the previous 5-year average for the first time since May 2018. 81 cases were reported in May.

The Florida Department of Health has reported 605 hepatitis A cases during the first five months of the year. From January 1, 2018 through May 30, 2020, 4,561 hepatitis A cases were reported.

In 2020, Duval County has seen the most cases with 138, followed by Volusia (58), Brevard (45) and St. Johns (29).

Health officials say the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting health care seeking behavior, which may be impacting the diagnosis and reporting of hepatitis A cases.

Nationally, since the outbreaks were first identified in 2016, 32,650 total cases have been reported including 325 deaths.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the hepatitis A vaccine is the best way to prevent hepatitis A virus (HAV) infection.

The following groups are at highest risk for acquiring HAV infection or developing serious complications from HAV infection in these outbreaks and should be offered the hepatitis A vaccine in order to prevent or control an outbreak:

  • People who use drugs (injection or non-injection)
  • People experiencing unstable housing or homelessness
  • Men who have sex with men (MSM)
  • People who are currently or were recently incarcerated
  • People with chronic liver disease, including cirrhosis, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *