By Staff report

Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez and Surgeon General Scott A. Rivkees are announcing a partnership with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Florida Department of Health to control the current rise in Hepatitis A cases. The state is mobilizing additional resources, including vaccines and manpower, to combat this issue head-on.

“This collaboration with the CDC will increase our vaccination outreach to protect more Floridians from this preventable disease and more aggressively promote awareness on how they can protect themselves and their loved ones,” Nuñez said.

Hepatitis A is a liver infection caused by the Hepatitis A virus and prevented with the Hepatitis A vaccine. The virus is found in the stool of those infected and it can survive on surfaces for several months. Infection can occur when someone ingests the virus, usually through close personal contact with an infected person. Hepatitis A is very contagious, and people can spread the virus before they get symptoms.

Getting vaccinated against Hepatitis A is the cornerstone of controlling the outbreak. It is easily prevented with a safe and effective vaccine that has been recommended since 2006 for all children at age one. This means, however, that many adults did not get the Hepatitis A vaccine as a child and therefore are not protected against the disease.

To help stop the outbreaks, the CDC recommends the Hepatitis A vaccine for people who use drugs (including drugs that are not injected), people experiencing homelessness, men who have sex with men, people with liver disease, and people who are or were recently in jail or prison. The vaccine is recommended for adults at risk, including groups affected in these outbreaks, as well as travelers to certain international countries. Persons at risk of hepatitis infection who have not been vaccinated or do not know their vaccination status should speak to their health care provider or contact their local county health department.

The symptoms of Hepatitis A include: fever, jaundice (yellow skin and eyes), tiredness, loss of appetite, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, diarrhea, and gray clay-colored stool. 844-CALL-DOH/844-225-5364), or email hepa@flhealth.gov, www.floridahealth.gov/hepa

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