HEPATITIS: FLORIDA DECLARES HEPATITIS A PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY -

HEPATITIS: FLORIDA DECLARES HEPATITIS A PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY

Scott A. Rivkees, MD, Surgeon General and State Health Office for the state of Florida, declared a public health emergency due to the prevalence of Hepatitis A cases in various counties in the state. According to Florida’s Hepatitis A Surveillance report released in July 2019, 2,636 cases have been reported in Florida since the start of 2018 while 2,088 have been reported since the start of 2019. Of those cases, 22% have been linked to other cases, and 24% are co-infected with Hepatitis B or C. Those between 30-39 years of age showed the highest incidence of disease.
Hepatitis A cases steadily increased from January to May of this year, before slowly declining but the number of cases still far surpass the five-year trend records. Since January 2018, 98% of patients that have been diagnosed with Hepatitis A had never received a documented dose of Hepatitis A vaccine, according to the state’s report. As of 2019, 100% of cases have presented in those not having received a documented dose of the vaccine.
Four of the most common methods of contraction listed in the report are via:
• Sexual Contact: 35%
• Personal Contact: 28%
• Household contact: 21%
• Other/Unknown: 16%
Those at risk for contracting hepatitis a include:
• The homeless
• Intravenous drug users
• Non-intravenous illicit drug users
• Men who have sex with men
• Individuals diagnosed with underlying liver disease
• Individuals in an emergency room or other acute care setting, after being administered an opioid antagonist such as naloxone
• Individuals with clotting factor disorders
• Individuals working with homeless personas or intravenous drug users outside of health care settings
• First responders
Those suffering from chronic liver disease or are over the age of 60 with a serious underlying medical condition are at the greatest risk.
According to Rivkees’ declaration, healthcare providers should consider screening for Hepatitis A in patients with non-specific symptoms (fever; chills; malaise; decreased appetite; and/or gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain) and symptoms such as jaundice, light-coloured stools and dark-coloured urine. Screening should be conducted via liver function tests and transaminase levels.

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