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Hep A Has Become A Health Emergency In Florida

4 months ago

1368  0
Posted on Aug 07, 2019, 4 p.m.

Hepatitis A is a viral disease that used to be common, however recently cases of infection are escalating to a worrying point and the state of Florida has declared hepatitis A to be a health emergency.

Hep A affects the liver can occur when a person eats food or drinks water that has been contaminated with fecal matter from another person that is infected with hepatitis A, and can be contracted through unprotected sex. 

This virus causes symptoms similar to those of the flu, which are relatively mild and typically last around 2 months. That being said the virus can affect liver health to the extent that it can threaten liver function. 

Hep A is said to be preventable through vaccination and good personal hygiene habits, but in the past year numerous regions within America have witnessed a jump in the number of hepatitis A cases, and Florida has just declared this viral disease a public health emergency. 

Officials have recorded 2,586 new cases of hepatitis A over the past year, 72% required hospitalization, and 65 of the new cases occurred in the past 2 weeks alone. Last year there were a total of 548 cases throughout the entire year which were mostly in adults. 

“I am declaring this Public Health Emergency as a proactive step to appropriately alert the public to this serious illness and prevent further spread of hepatitis A in our state. The best way to prevent hepatitis A is through vaccination. It is important that we vaccinate as many high risk individuals as possible in order to achieve herd immunity,” announces the Florida Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees in an official statement.

It is not clear as to why there has been such an alarming increase, but it is being investigated, and by declaring this health emergency it will allow the state to invest more money into testing and treatment, as in accordance with the Florida Statute 381.00315(1)(c), which defines a "public health emergency" as "any occurrence, or threat thereof [...] which results or may result in substantial injury or harm to the public health," and which allows the State Health Officer to "take actions that are necessary to protect the public health."

In the meantime while this is being investigated officials advise individuals to take extra precautions against the hepatitis A virus by maintaining good personal hygiene habits, and looking into vaccination. It may also be best to avoid dining out and prepare meals at home to avoid contamination, as well as drinking only filtered or bottled water. 

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