Nearly a dozen hepatitis A cases reported in Northeast Florida

Preventing hepatitis A

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — There are three times more hepatitis A cases reported so far this year in Florida than in all of 2018.

Now, doctors are warning people they need to get vaccinated.

It's a preventable, but sometimes deadly virus.

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When a case of Hepatitis A is reported, Bharat Misra says his team at Memorial Hospital reports it to the state.

“It is typically transmitted by contaminated stool, and we seem to be in the middle of an epidemic,” said Misra.

Just last week Misra tells me, his team reported two cases of hepatitis A.

“We are seeing somewhat an increase in the number of hepatitis a infections that present in emergency rooms, which is somewhat unusual,” said Misra.

This year, the Department of Health found four reported cases of hepatitis A in Duval County, five cases of the virus in St. Johns County and two reported cases in Clay County.

Doctors say it doesn't take much to catch the virus. That's why they encourage you to use soap and water to wash your hands.

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You can use hand sanitize,r too, but they say soap and water is better.

“Since it is spread through contaminated stool, hand washing, avoiding raw foods that might be contaminated, avoid coming in close contact with someone with a known infection is how you prevent it,” Misra explained.

Misra says those at high risk of getting the virus are people who travel to foreign countries and who live in assisted living facilities.

“People are traveling a lot more. We’re also getting a lot of immigrants traveling to Florida, and I suspect that may be why the disease is increasing,” said Misra.

Misra says symptoms usually begin two to six weeks after a person is infected with the virus and can last less than two months.

“It requires three shots, and if you take them you will be immune from getting the infection for the duration of your life,” said Misra.

Misra says children are usually vaccinated between their first and second birthdays and adults who haven’t already been vaccinated should do it now rather than later.