Florida Outbreak

Florida’s Hepatitis A Outbreak Grows By 55 Cases

Oct 22, 2019
Hepatitis A sign
Julio Ochoa / WUSF Public Media

Florida had 55 new hepatitis A cases reported last week, bringing the total number of cases this year to 2,847 as of Saturday, according to Department of Health data.

Brevard and Volusia counties led the state in the number of newly reported cases last week, with eight each, a News Service of Florida analysis of the data shows.

With measles making a comeback in many upper-income countries including the United States and still rampant in some poorer nations such as Democratic Republic of Congo and Madagascar, a leading measles expert is warning of a danger beyond the spread of the disease itself: There's mounting evidence that when a person is infected with measles, the virus also wipes out the immune system's memory of how to fight off all sorts of other life-threatening infections – ranging from gastro-intestinal bugs that cause diarrhea to respiratory viruses that trigger pneumonia.

An electron micrograph of the hepatitis A virus, an RNA virus that can survive up to a month at room temperature.
Betty Partin / CDC

The state had 63 cases of hepatitis A reported during the last week of May, bringing the total number of infections this year to 1,373 as of Saturday.

The Florida Department of Health has been encouraging people to get vaccinated to protect themselves against infection. Two doses --- six months apart --- are required. According to a Department of Health report, 96 percent of infections in April involved people who had not been vaccinated.