Pinellas County Sanitary Department officials encourage residents to vaccinate against hepatitis A, which is on the rise.
As of this week, 58 cases of hepatitis A were reported in Pinellas this year, including an increase of 10 cases from September to October. Last year, Pinellas reported no cases. There were only two in 2016 and only four in 2015.
Hillsborough County has now reported 21 cases of hepatitis A in August this year, compared with 10 cases in the last year and five in 2015 and 2016.
More than 180 cases have been reported across the state this year. Health officials say other regions in Florida and even other states see similar outbreaks.
"We are well on the way to reporting the highest number of cases of hepatitis A since 2005," said Drs. Ulyee Choe, director of the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County.
Hepatitis A is transmitted from man to man by feces contaminated with the virus. When protecting against hepatitis A, it is important that adequate hygiene is ensured. Symptoms include fever, dark urine, yellowish skin or eyes, tiredness and stomach problems. It can cause liver damage, especially to those who already have liver disease.
TO YOUR HEALTH: Keep an eye on trends and new developments that affect you. Visit the Times health page.
In addition to the vaccine, washing your hands after a bathroom visit and after changing diapers reduces the likelihood that contamination will spread. But the vaccine is the best protection against the virus.
The health department offers the hepatitis A vaccine with two doses for adults and children free of charge. The usual $ 70.66 adult cost will be waived at this time.