Although highly contagious, Hepatitis A is considered a rare disease. It has largely been controlled through immunizations. That said, in Florida, Hepatitis A has been experiencing a resurgence. It has recently become so prevalent that it’s triggered a public health crisis in the state.
There are five different types of hepatitis. All of them cause inflammation in the liver. Each of the five types have slightly different symptoms and require a different treatment. Hepatitis A is the subtype of concern in Florida.
Hepatitis A is a virus which affects the liver. Once infected, the liver becomes inflamed and may not function properly.
The virus is most often spread through contaminated food or water. It can also be transferred from person to person via contact with an infected individual or a contaminated item. Avoiding hepatitis A infection is best done through vaccination and maintaining proper hygiene habits. Some cases are mild and don’t require treatment — many who are infected recover completely with no permanent damage to their livers.
Symptoms of Hepatitis A typically take a few weeks to appear after initial infection. Furthermore, some infected persons may be asymptomatic.
In the past year alone, 2,586 new cases of Hepatitis A have been recorded. Of these, 72% have required hospitalization. In just two weeks during the summer, 65 new cases were reported. This may seem like a small number of total cases, but for the entirety of 2018, the total number of infections reported was 548. Most of these cases were adults.
Because of the massive rise in cases, the state of Florida has declared a public health emergency. This designation will help allocate funds to the testing and treatment of the disease.
Funds will also help officials to educate the public on the dangers of Hepatitis A through public health initatives. Educational packages will include information on avoiding the disease through proper hygiene and vaccination. Details on how the virus is transmitted will also aid in preventing the illnesses further spread.
The above video, from How To Gasto, goes into detail about Hepatitis A. Topics include the associated symptoms, testing for the illness, and more.