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Florida’s Hep A Crisis

In the midst of the largest nationwide Hepatitis A outbreak ever, Florida’s rapid increase in confirmed cases is alarming.

The Crisis is Still Growing

We’re in the middle of the nation’s largest Hepatitis A outbreak ever, with over 30,000 cases in the past year. This uptick is closely tied with the opioid epidemic, and it’s hard to kick because of it’s long incubation period, which ranges from 14 to 55 days. 13 states have alarmingly high rates, including Florida. 

 

In 2017, Florida had 276 confirmed cases of Hep A. As of January 4th, 2020, they currently have over 4,000. There was more than a 500% increase in cases from 2018 to 2019. 

 

A map that shows the cumulative Hepatitis A rates per 100,000 population from January 1, 2018 through February 8, 2020 Counties with one or more cases reported in week 6 are: Brevard, Charlotte, Citrus, Clay, Columbia, Dade, Duval, Escambia, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lake, Nassau, Orange, Osceola, Polk, St. Johns, Santa Rosa, Volusia Counties with a rate of .01 - 13.6 per 100,000 population are: Broward, Miami-Dade, Leon, Collier, Hardee, Monroe, Putnam, Alachua, Bay, Escambia, Madison, St. Johns, Wakulla, Palm Beach, Hendry, Jackson, Washington, Walton, Highlands, Clay, Okaloosa, DeSoto, Liberty, Duval, Flagler, Nassau, Hamilton Counties with a rate of 13.7 - 37.1 per 100,000 population are: Polk, Suwannee, Franklin, Osceola, Gilchrist, Seminole, Lee, Hillsborough, St. Lucie, Orange, Taylor, Glades, Dixie, Levy, Indian River, Santa Rosa, Union, Sarasota, Sumter, Brevard, Charlotte, Martin, Manatee, Columbia Counties with a rate of 37.2 - 92.0 per 100,000 population are: Marion, Lake, Pinellas, Volusia, Okeechobee, Hernando, Citrus, Pasco.
*Data from Florida Department of Health. Updated as of 2/8/2020

 

 

Recognizing Hep A

The most common symptoms include:

  • Yellow eyes or skin
  • Abdominal pain
  • Pale stools
  • Dark urine (cola colored)

 

Symptoms could also include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, loss of appetite, joint pain or fever. 

 

Keeping Your Business Safe

 

There are a few simple things you can do to keep your business safe:

  • Handwashing prevents Hep A transmission
  • Don’t let anyone work sick (this includes you!)
  • Bathroom cleanliness. Hourly focus on touch points (bathroom stall, door, sink and toilet handles and the front door.
  • Handwashing!!! Did we mention this already?

 

If you or an employee is exposed, there’s a tight window for preventative vaccination (14 days from onset of symptoms). 

 

If an employee might have Hep A:

  • Send them home immediately. Don’t delay… 
  • Require a doctor’s note before allowing someone suspected of having Hep A to return to work
  • Step up handwashing. It is our best defense.

 

To sum it up, Hep A isn’t going anywhere fast. To protect yourself and your business, make sure your whole team knows the symptoms, don’t let anyone work sick, clean your bathrooms and key touch points aggressively, and step up your handwashing.


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