Florida health officials have affirmed seven instances of adults with hepatitis An in Broward County, days after various cases were accounted for in Palm Beach and Martin counties.
The Florida Department of Health in Broward declared the cases on Thursday. The county has in this way achieved the outbreak threshold of five cases, making Broward, Martin and Palm Beach areas high-risk zones.
Dr. John Rivas, a local gastroenterologist and transplant hepatologist, said the outbreak is a cause for concern.
“This strain of hepatitis A, to me, seems to be more aggressive than the ones that you normally see,” he said.
The reason this strain is seen as more aggressive, officials said, is because it is able to mutate.
“The way it’s transmitted, basically, is fecal or oral,” said Rivas.
The ailment is transmitted from person-to-person through objects, food or drinks than have been sullied by fecal issue from a tainted person..
Hepatitis An isn’t normal in the United States. Whenever left untreated, it can cause harm or discomfort in the liver.
Officials reported six cases in Palm Beach County on Tuesday, five of them recorded inside the previous 50 days. There are 17 announced cases in Martin County, the biggest number there in the previous five years.
“That’s the part that’s scary about what’s going on: the amount of people that have been exposed, the way that it’s moving from county to county,” said Rivas, “and the amount of deaths that we have seen is very alarming.”
Officials said a married couple in Palm City died due to complications from the disease.
Even more concerning, doctors said, patients can be infected with the virus and not know it.
“Once a person gets infected with hepatitis A, there’s usually a four-week incubation period,” said Rivas. “That person, they go ahead and can expose other people, and nobody would know that they have hepatitis A.”
The symptoms of hepatitis A are as follows:
Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Tiredness, lack of appetite and fever. Yellowing of skin and eyes (jaundice). Dark urine, pale stool and stomach pain.
“I would tell people, ‘Be careful what you put in your mouth,’” said Rivas. “Obviously, be very, very cautious and wash your hands regularly.”
Health officials advised residents to seek medical attention if they have some of these symptoms.