CLAY COUNTY – County health officials have confirmed four cases of Hepatitis A in the county since the start of the year, and they are urging residents to be vigilant of the viruses’ causes and …
CLAY COUNTY – County health officials have confirmed four cases of Hepatitis A in the county since the start of the year, and they are urging residents to be vigilant of the viruses’ causes and symptoms.
The number of reported cases has more than quadrupled from last year, with the 3,009 Hepatitis A cases, as of Sept. 7, compared to 548 cases from 2018.
One of the four Clay cases was contracted outside of the U.S., and three were acquired within the state.
Sonny Rodgers, Department of Health-Clay emergency preparedness coordinator, said when a case is identified, it’s documented by county health department epidemiologists in Merlin. The case is then handled based on state and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
“Rapid identification and prompt reporting are important because post-exposure prophylaxis can prevent the development of symptomatic illness in an exposed person and prevent the spread to others,” Rodgers said.
Pasco and Pinellas counties have more than 300 cases each. Volusia, Orange and Hillsborough have the next-highest cases of Hepatitis A.
DOH-Clay receives weekly reports from Tallahassee and conducts conference calls with the state Surgeon General and Incident Management Team, Rodgers said. Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees declared a public health emergency Aug.1.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the symptoms of Hepatitis A include the following: jaundice, abdominal pain near the liver, clay-colored bowel movements, fatigue, fever or dark urine.
The virus can be contracted by bodily contact and consuming contaminated water, food or drugs. The CDC advises avoiding drinks with “unknown purity” in countries where Hepatitis A is common.
Rodgers said the Hepatitis A vaccine was the best prevention measure. Proper handwashing can also combat the virus.
“Seek immediate medical attention if you think that you might have contracted the virus or were exposed to some who has been diagnosed with Hepatitis A,” Rodgers said.
The DOH’s hotline is 1-844-225-5364. Email HepA@flhealth.gov, visit FloridaHealth.gov/HepA, CDC.gov/Hepatitis or Immunize.org/Hepatitis-A for more information.