Hepatitis A outbreak nears 1,500 cases

With Pasco and Pinellas counties accounting for more than a third of the cases this year, a hepatitis A outbreak continues to expand.

Florida had 92 hepatitis A cases reported last week, bringing the total to 1,466 this year, according to information posted on the state Department of Health website. By comparison, the state had 1,175 reported cases in the past five years combined.

The disease, which can cause liver damage, can be spread through such things as food or drinks that have been contaminated with fecal matter from people with the disease. Health officials have urged Floridians to get vaccinated against the disease.

The hardest-hit area of the state has been the Tampa Bay region. Pasco County has had the most reported cases this year, with 275. It is followed closely by Pinellas County, with 270.

Other counties with large numbers include Orange County, with 115; Volusia County, with 106; Hillsborough County, with 102; Marion County, with 87, Lake County, with 71; and Hernando County, with 62, according to the Department of Health numbers.