Since 2017 Florida has experienced ongoing transmission of Hepatitis A in parts of the state. The Florida Department of Health is placing emphasis on, and raising awareness about, the need to vaccinate at risk populations. Hepatitis A is a serious liver disease. It is caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). HAV is spread from person to person through contact with the feces (stool) of people who are infected, which can easily happen if someone does not wash his or her hands properly. You can also get hepatitis A from food, water, or objects contaminated with HAV.
Symptoms of hepatitis A can include:
- fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and/ or joint pain
- severe stomach pains and diarrhea (mainly in children), or
- jaundice (yellow skin or eyes, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movements).
These symptoms usually appear 2 to 6 weeks after exposure and usually last less than 2 months, although some people can be ill for as long as 6 months. If you have hepatitis A you may be too ill to work. Children often do not have symptoms, but most adults do. You can spread HAV without having symptoms. Hepatitis A can cause liver failure and death, although this is rare and occurs more commonly in persons 50 years of age or older and persons with other liver diseases, such as hepatitis B or C.
The following people are at risk of infection:
- Travel to a place where it’s common
- Are a man who has sex with men
- Use drugs (with or without needles)
- Are getting treatment for certain bleeding disorders, like hemophilia
- Adopt a child from a country where hepatitis A is common
- Work with animals that have hepatitis A — or in a hepatitis A research lab
- Have close contact with someone known to have Hepatitis- Homeless