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Hepatitis A Cases Continue Piling Up

Hepatitis A vaccine
Julio Ochoa
The Florida Channel
The Hepatitis A vaccine.

Florida had 81 new hepatitis A cases reported last week, as state Surgeon General Scott Rivkees declared a public health emergency because of the virus, newly released numbers show. 

The 81 cases reported from July 28 to Saturday increased to 2,123 the number of hepatitis A cases reported in the state this year. Pasco and Pinellas counties continued to lead the state with 368 and 333 cases, respectively.

Monroe County reported its first case to the state last week. Meanwhile, Volusia County had the largest number of newly reported cases last week with 11, according to a News Service of Florida analysis of the data.

Volusia has reported 190 cases this year. Pasco County reported an additional 10 cases, and Brevard and Palm Beach counties reported increases of seven cases. Meanwhile, 12 largely rural counties have not reported hepatitis A cases this year.

Those counties are Baker, Bradford, Calhoun, Dixie, Gadsden, Gulf, Highlands, Holmes, Jefferson, Lafayette, Suwannee and Union. In declaring the public health emergency last week, Rivkees encouraged people to be vaccinated against the virus, which can cause liver damage.

"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," Rivkees said in a prepared statement.