Officials issue hepatitis A warning: Here are the symptoms, treatment options

VIDEO: Officials issue hepatitis A warning: Here are the symptoms, treatment options

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida Department of Health said Wednesday that it has issued a health advisory to raise awareness about an increase in hepatitis A cases nationwide and to reinforce the importance of vaccinations.

There have been 385 cases of hepatitis A virus infection reported in Florida since January -- more than three times the previous five-year average of 126 cases, the agency said.

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Officials said statewide cases are starting to mirror national trends and that similar outbreaks have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention since March 2017.

The illness, which is primarily transmitted through the fecal-oral route, is best prevented through vaccination and by practicing good hygiene, including the thorough washing of hands after using the restroom and changing diapers and before preparing or eating food, the agency said.

Who should be vaccinated?
• Children at age 1
• Homeless people
• Recreational drug user, whether injected or not
• Men who have sex with men
• People who have had direct contact with those infected with hepatitis A
• People who have traveled to countries where hepatitis A is common
• People with chronic or long-term liver disease, including hepatitis B or hepatitis C
• People with clotting-factor disorders
• Family and caregivers of adoptees from countries where hepatitis A is common

What is Hepatitis A?
• Hepatitis A is a highly contagious disease that attacks the liver.
• People infected with hepatitis A are most contagious from two weeks before onset of symptoms to one week afterwards.
• Not everyone who is infected will have all the symptoms.
• Symptoms usually start within 28 days of exposure to the virus with a range of 15 to 50 days.

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What are its symptoms?
• Jaundice (the yellowing of skin and the whites of eyes)
• Fever
• Diarrhea
• Fatigue/tiredness
• Loss of appetite
• Nausea and vomiting
• Stomach pain
• Dark-colored urine
• Pale- or clay-colored stool
 
How is it treated or prevented?
• Hepatitis A vaccine is the best method of preventing infection.
• No medicines can cure the disease once symptoms appear.
• People with hepatitis A symptoms should seek medical care immediately.
• Most people get better over time but may need to be hospitalized.
• A previous hepatitis A infection provides immunity for the rest of a person's life.
• People who are exposed to the virus may be given vaccine or immune globulin within 14 days of exposure to prevent infection.