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Hepatitis A Outbreak Continues To Expand

An electron micrograph of the hepatitis A virus, an RNA virus that can survive up to a month at room temperature.
Betty Partin
The Florida Channel
An electron micrograph of the Hepatitis A virus (HAV), an RNA virus that can survive up to a month at room temperature.

Florida reported 92 hepatitis A cases last week, bringing the total to 1,129 cases this year as an outbreak continues to grow, according to numbers posted Monday on the state Department of Health website. 

The total is more than double the 548 cases reported in all of 2018. In the four previous years, the highest number of cases was 276 in 2017.

Hepatitis A, which can cause liver damage, can be spread through such things as food or drinks that have been contaminated with fecal matter from people with the disease.

Health officials have urged people to get vaccinated against the disease. The heaviest concentrations of the cases since Jan. 1, 2018, have been in the Tampa Bay region and Central Florida.

Pinellas County has had 344 cases during that period, followed by Pasco County with 292 cases; Orange County with 189 cases; and Hillsborough County with 176 cases, according to the state numbers.

Other counties with large numbers include Marion County, with 82; Lake and Volusia counties, each with 73; Seminole County, with 55; and Hernando County, with 53.