Hepatitis A cases jump tenfold in Southwest Florida this year

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Hepatitis A. (Credit: CBS)
Hepatitis A. (Credit: CBS)

Hepatitis infections are growing and so far this year Lee County has reported ten times the number of Hep A cases as the same time last year.

Lee County’s not the only place seeing the increase. Last year between January 1 and April 27, the Department of Health reported only one case in SWFL, and it was in Lee County.

This year, Lee County has reported 10 cases, with three in Charlotte County, two in DeSoto County and one in Collier County.

As of Saturday, 954 cases were reported this year in Florida. Compare that to all of 2018 where a total of 549 cases were reported for the entire year, despite the vaccine that’s offered through the health department.

The Collier County Health Department says most of the cases they see are related to foreign travel.

Dr. Stacey Rizzais, an infectious disease expert with Mayo Clinic says, “Anybody who travels to areas where Hepatitis A is endemic, or works in the health care field where they may be exposed, or works in the food preparation field where may be exposed should be vaccinated.”

The Mayo Clinic also says symptoms usually don’t appear until you’ve had the virus for a few weeks.

Symptoms include:

  • Sudden nausea and vomiting.
  • Abdominal pain especially on the upper right side beneath your lower ribs by your liver.
  • Clay-colored bowel movements.

These symptoms may be relatively mild and go away in a few weeks.

Practicing good hygiene, including washing hands frequently, is one of the best ways to protect against Hepatitis A

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