PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — A Pasco County Fire Rescue firefighter who was infected with hepatitis A infection prompted the vaccination of more than 70 other firefighters. 

Pasco Fire Rescue said it learned from the Florida Department of Health on February 25 that the firefighter had been hospitalized because of hepatitis A. Pasco health officials determined that the ill firefighter had been infectious for a 14-day time-frame while reporting for duty and completing clinicals at three fire stations, according to Pasco Fire Rescue spokesperson Corey Dierdorff.

Hepatitis A is primarily transmitted through the fecal-oral route or through food or drink contaminated with microscopic amounts of feces.

Officials said that because the firefighter wore gloves, it's not likely that any patients were at risk of contracting hepatitis A. But, they said coworkers of the firefighter were more at risk because of the communal nature of station-house life. 

Officials identified 101 employees who may have been potentially exposed; 28 had previously received the hepatitis A vaccination and the remaining 73 got vaccinations after the fact, Dierdorff said.

Two employees were excused from work after showing symptoms consistent with hepatitis A. One tested negative for the infection and has been cleared to return to work; lab work for the other has not come back yet, and they are excused from work until hepatitis A can be ruled out.

Electrostatic disinfectant sprayers have been placed at all three affected stations so that crews can disinfect the station at regular intervals, Dierdorff said.

Pasco County is ranked third in the state for new cases of hepatitis A, health officials say. People exposed to hepatitis A begin experiencing symptoms an average of 28 days after exposure.