Hepatitis A crises declared in Florida and Philadelphia as rates soar nationwide

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Hepatitis A crises declared in Florida and Philadelphia as rates soar nationwide

  • In Philadelphia, 154 cases have been reported this year, up from just six in 2018
  • The rate in Florida has quadrupled, up to 2,034 in the past eight months alone, from 548 in 2018 
  • Rates are also high in other states, including Kentucky, with 4,793 cases this year 

Both the city of Philadelphia and the state of Florida today declared hepatitis A crises as rates of the virus soar. 

In Philadelphia, 154 cases have been reported this year, up from just six in 2018. 

The rate in Florida has quadrupled, up to 2,034 in the past eight months alone, from 548 in the entirety of last year. 

Rates are also high in other states, including Kentucky, with 4,793 this year so far; Ohio with 3,220; West Virginia with 2,528; and Tennessee with 2,022.

Florida is currently battling one of the nation's biggest hepatitis A outbreaks in the country

Florida is currently battling one of the nation’s biggest hepatitis A outbreaks in the country

Philadelphia’s biggest challenges are intravenous drug use, accounting for 67 percent of cases, and its vast, under-served homeless population, accounting for 26 percent.  

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‘While there’s not an exact cause that we can pinpoint, Philadelphia had been in the grip of the opioid crisis, which the Health Commissioner had called the worst epidemic here in more than a century,’ James Garrow, spokesman for Philadelphia Department of Public Health, said. 

In Florida, the outbreaks are concentrated around the Tampa Bay area. 

Hepatitis A is caused by a virus that infects the liver and it’s spread through the feces of those who are infected. 

It is often spread when infected people don’t wash their hands after going to the bathroom since the feces can be transferred to food, drinks and objects.

The illness’ spread can be prevented through vaccination.

By declaring a state of emergency, officials aim to raise awareness of the importance of washing hands, and to open access to vaccinations for at-risk people.

In particular, Florida officials called on people with underlying conditions such as HIV/AIDS, chronic liver disease, or poor access to care such as the homeless, to seek preventative treatment.  



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