Hepatitis A cases top 500 this year, down from 2019

Florida has seen a drop in cases of hepatitis A this year after a massive outbreak in 2019 --- but still has a higher-than-usual number of infections.

The state had 621 hepatitis A cases in 2020 as of Saturday, according to newly updated numbers. That rate of infections is lower than in 2019, when the state had 3,408 cases throughout the year.

But the 2020 rate substantially exceeds other years. The state, for example, had 106 cases in 2014; 123 cases in 2015; 122 cases in 2016; 276 cases in 2017; and 548 cases in 2018, Florida Department of Health numbers show.

State Surgeon General Scott Rivkees, who doubles as secretary of the Department of Health, issued a public health emergency in August that warned about the spread of hepatitis A and encouraged citizens to get vaccinated and wash their hands.

Hepatitis A, which causes liver damage, is spread through such things as fecal matter, sexual contact and intravenous drug use.

As of May 30, Duval County by far had the most cases this year, with 138. It was followed by Volusia County, with 58 cases; Brevard County, with 45 cases; St. Johns County, with 29 cases; and Clay County, with 27 cases, the Department of Health numbers show.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.