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hepatitis A

Hepatitis A information line

 



What is Hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is a contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus.

How is it spread?
The hepatitis A virus is found in the stool and blood of people who are infected. The hepatitis A virus is spread primarily through the oral-fecal route, when someone ingests the virus, usually through close personal contact with an infected person or from eating
contaminated food or drink.

Symptoms of Hepatitis A
Symptoms of hepatitis A usually appear 2 to 7 weeks after exposure and can
include the following:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dark urine or light-colored stools
  • Fever
  • Feeling tired
  • Yellow skin or eyes (jaundice)

Not everyone with hepatitis A has symptoms. Adults are more likely to have
symptoms than children.

People who get hepatitis A may feel sick for a few weeks to several months but usually recover completely and do not have lasting liver damage. In some people, the illness may be so severe that the person needs to be hospitalized. In rare cases, hepatitis A can cause liver failure and even death. This is more common in older people and in people with other serious health issues, such as chronic liver disease.

Those at Increased Risk for Hepatitis A
Although anyone can get hepatitis A, certain groups are at higher risk of getting or experiencing severe illness from hepatitis A.

People at increased risk for hepatitis A:

  • International travelers
  • Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men
  • People who use or inject drugs
  • People experiencing homelessness
  • People with occupational risk for exposure

People at increased risk of experiencing severe illness from hepatitis A:

  • People with chronic liver disease, including hepatitis B and hepatitis C
  • Persons with HIV

Prevention
Vaccination is the best way to protect against hepatitis A.

Hepatitis A can be prevented with a vaccine, which is recommended for all children at age 1
and adults at risk.

Practicing good hand hygiene is also important to preventing the spread of hepatitis A, including thoroughly washing hands after using the bathroom, changing diapers and before preparing or eating food. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers do not kill the virus.

Recent Disease Trends in Florida
Vaccines against hepatitis A first became available in 1995 and led to a sharp decrease in hepatitis A cases nationally. Historically, many cases of hepatitis A in Florida have been associated with international travel. Consistent with national trends, from 2018-2020 Florida experienced a large epidemic of hepatitis A, particularly among persons who use drugs and persons experiencing homelessness.

Epidemiologic curve of hepatitis A cases by month in Florida
January 2017 – June 2022

2022, monthly hepatitis A case counts were as follows: January 2017 12 February 2017 21 March 2017  29 April 2017 18 May 2017 25 June 2017 27 July 2017 16 August 2017 30 September 2017 23 October 2017 24 November 2017 21 December 2017 22 January 2018 18 February 2018 13 March 2018 12 April 2018 11 May 2018 21 June 2018 28 July 2018 48 August 2018  60 September 2018  53 October 2018 98 November 2018 114 December 2018 139 January 2019 241 February 2019 242 March 2019  273 April 2019 319 May 2019 372 June 2019 370 July 2019 353 August 2019 304 September 2019  290 October 2019 247 November 2019 220 December 2019 184 January 2020 178 February 2020 140 March 2020  103 April 2020  92 May 2020 81 June 2020 67 July 2020 37 August 2020 55 September 2020


In 2022, Florida has experienced an increase in hepatitis A, primarily among men who have sex with men.

Confirmed and Probable Hepatitis A Cases in Florida Residents by Year

Data are as of July 7, 2022

Data are provisional and subject to change

For the period 2017 to 2022, annual hepatitis A case counts by sex and age group, were as follows: 2017: females age 0-19, 4 cases; females age 20-49, 47 cases; females age 50 or older, 27 cases; males age 0-19, 7 cases; males age 20-49, 135 cases; males age 50 or older, 56 cases. For 2018: females age 0-19, 4 cases; females age 20-49, 141 cases; females age 50 or older, 34 cases; males age 0-19, 11 cases; males age 20-49, 261 cases; males age 50 or older, 93 cases. For 2019: females age 0-19, 17 cases; females age 20-49, 950 cases; females age 50 or older, 256 cases; males age 0-19, 20 cases; males age 20-49, 1513 cases; males age 50 or older, 619 cases. For 2020: females age 0-19, 8 cases; females age 20-49, 290 cases; females age 50 or older, 83 cases; males age 0-19, 7 cases; males age 20-49, 468 cases; males age 50 or older, 165 cases. For 2021: females age 0-19, 3 cases; females age 20-49, 47 cases; females age 50 or older, 31 cases; males age 0-19, 4 cases; males age 20-49, 82 cases; males age 50 or older, 38 cases. For 2022 as of July 7, 2022: females age 0-19, 6 cases; females age 20-49, 11 cases; females age 50 or older, 19 cases; males age 0-19, 3 cases; males age 20-49, 123 cases; males age 50 or older, 53 cases.

Notes:

  • Data for 2022 are year-to-date while all other years are complete years.
  • Non-Florida resident cases are not included in the case counts.
  • Cases with unknown age or gender not included in the case counts.

Hep A Outbreak Fact Sheet

Hep A Outbreak Card