The Public Health Emergency issued by Florida Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees has been renewed to continually address Hepatitis A cases in Florida.
While anyone can contract Hepatitis A, individuals who are considered by the CDC and The Florida Department of Health to be high risk include: those who are experiencing homelessness; intravenous and non-intravenous drug users; men who have sex with other men; individuals in an emergency room or other acute care setting, after being administered an opioid antagonist, such as naloxone; individuals working with homeless persons or intravenous drug users outside of health care settings; and first responders.
Sandy Martin, Health Officer in Jackson County, states, “Hepatitis A is a highly contagious disease that attacks the liver and vaccination is the best way to prevent becoming infected. I strongly recommend that anyone who has been in contact with a person who has tested positive for Hepatitis A or who may be at risk for contracting this disease to contact us immediately at 850-509-0046 to receive your vaccination.” Ms. Martin continued, “If you have already received your first Hepatitis A vaccination and have not yet received the second, please contact us to schedule your follow-up injection.”
The declaration also recommends vaccination for individuals or who are at heightened risk for suffering serious complications from contracting hepatitis A. This includes individuals with chronic liver disease, clotting factor disorders, and individuals over 60 years of age with a serious underlying medical condition, as determined by their health care provider.
The Jackson County Health Department reminds all individuals to practice good handwashing procedures to prevent further spread of Hepatitis A. All individuals should wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using bathrooms, changing diapers, and before preparing or eating food. Additionally, consistent sanitation practices for public and private facilities with restrooms and showers are strongly emphasized.
Hepatitis A facts
People infected with Hepatitis A are most contagious from two weeks before onset of symptoms to one week afterwards and not everyone who is infected will have all the symptoms.
Symptoms usually start within 28 days of exposure to the virus with a range of 15-50 days. Symptoms can include:
» Jaundice (yellowing skin and whites of eyes)
» Loss of appetite
» Nausea and vomiting
» Stomach pain
» Dark-colored urine
» Pale or clay colored stool
How is Hepatitis A treated or Hepatitis A infection prevented?
Hepatitis A vaccine is the best method of preventing infection.
Practicing good hand hygiene plays an important role in preventing the spread of Hepatitis A.
Use soap and running water and wash for at least 20 seconds, wash hands after changing a diaper or caring for a person, and wash hands before preparing, serving or eating food.
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers do not kill the Hepatitis A virus.
No medicines can cure the disease once symptoms appear. People with Hepatitis A symptoms should seek medical care immediately.
Most people get better over time but may need to be hospitalized.
Previous infection with Hepatitis A provides immunity for the rest of a person’s life.
People that are exposed to Hepatitis A may be given vaccine or immune globulin within 14 days of exposure to prevent infection.
For more information about the Florida Department of Health visit www.FloridaHealth.gov.