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4/11/19 Update: Hepatitis A in Martin County

By Renay Rouse (FDOH Martin) / Martha Ann Kneiss (Martin County Administration)

April 11, 2019

The Health Department in Martin County is urging good handwashing and vaccination to stop the spread of Hepatitis A in the community. Today, the Health Department confirmed 19 cases of Hepatitis A in Martin County and 3 deaths associated with complications from the virus.

Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable liver disease. While normally not fatal, persons with chronic disease, compromised immune systems and senior citizens are more likely to experience a severe illness, leading to liver failure and possible death.

Anyone experiencing symptoms of Hepatitis A should contact their healthcare provider for evaluation and testing. The Health Department in Martin County is offering the vaccine to persons who are uninsured and underinsured.

The investigation into the possible modes of transmission for Hepatitis A in Martin County continues. The Health Department is utilizing local, regional and state resources in this investigation. An investigation includes interviews with confirmed cases to gather lifestyle information, including food histories, that can help to pinpoint common links.

There have been more than 1,200 confirmed cases of Hepatitis A statewide. The Florida Department of Health considers a community "high risk" when the confirmed number of cases reaches 5. Martin County reached high risk status with 5 confirmed cases as of Monday, April 1.

What is Hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease usually spread person to person through objects, food or drink that are contaminated by small amounts of fecal matter transmitted from a person with Hepatitis A. 

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms usually start within 28 days of exposure to the virus with a range of 15-50 days. Symptoms can include:

  • Jaundice (yellowing skin and whites of eyes)
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue/tired
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Pale or clay colored stool

What should Martin County residents do?

  • Seek medical attention if any person experiences symptoms of illness.

  • Contact a healthcare provider or primary care physician with questions or concerns. Underlying health problems such as existing liver disease or clotting-factor disorders can make you more likely to get sick from hepatitis A.

  • Visit for detailed information and printable resources.

  • Exercise good hygiene - handwashing for a minimum of 20 seconds, after using the bathroom and before preparing or eating food.

  • Vaccinate. The Hepatitis A vaccine is available in the community via healthcare providers and local pharmacies. Vaccine supply is arriving daily in the county.

  • The Hepatitis A vaccine became part of the standard vaccine series for children in 1995. If parents have questions about their child's vaccination status, they should contact their child's pediatrician.

  • To ensure adequate access to the vaccine, the Florida Department of Health in Martin County will provide the Hepatitis A vaccine to those who are uninsured or underinsured. For an appointment, call 772-221-4000, then press 3 for Immunizations.