PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Throughout the state of Florida, health officials are working to identify the cause behind an outbreak of Hepatitis-A cases in 2018.
- 280 cases reported in Florida in 2018
- Pinellas County has 58 reported cases
- Dept. of Health in Pinellas waiving fees for vaccinations
As of Monday, there are 280 cases reported throughout the state. In Pinellas County, there are 58 reported cases.
The Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County is waiving the fee on vaccinations to try to prevent future cases.
In Hillsborough County, there are 36 cases and Pasco County has 33 cases.
The virus is spread person to person.
“What we call 'fecal-oral,' so that means that somebody goes to the bathroom, they don’t wash their hands and then they go and touch surfaces, they go and eat something, they go and prepare food for other people,” said Rachel Ilic, an epidemiologist.
Symptoms include fever, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, yellowing of the skin or eyes and damage to the live. Ilic says symptoms can last up to six months.
Right now, the majority of cases in Pinellas County are among the homeless population and drug users.
But anyone who is not vaccinated can get the virus. It can be spread if someone touches a surface that has the virus on it.
"It's not just for the young, it's not just for the old, and it’s not just for drug users and homeless people. Anybody can get it and anybody who is not vaccinated is susceptible,” said Ilic.
Last year, Pinellas County had no reported cases of Hepatitis-A. In 2016 there were two cases, and in 2015 there were four.
The best way to prevent it is to get the vaccine and wash your hands.
“It’s really important just to push hand hygiene with people," Ilic said. "To make sure they’re washing their hands after they go to the bathroom, to make sure they’re washing their hands before they eat."
Vaccinations are being offered for free at the following centers throughout Pinellas County:
- St. Petersburg: 205 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N.
- Pinellas Park: 6350 76th Ave. N.
- Mid-County (Largo): 8751 Ulmerton Rd.
- Clearwater: 310 N. Myrtle Ave.
- Tarpon Springs: 301 S. Disston Ave.