Spreading Awareness: Hepatitis A Epidemic in the Tampa Bay Area

The Tampa Bay Area is experiencing an epidemic of Hepatitis A. This is a foodborne illness usually passed by food workers, or by contaminated water. It is generally a self-limited disease with no long-term consequences. Once you develop the antibody to Hepatitis A, you will no longer be infected and will not be infected again. There been many questions over the last few weeks because of the epidemic the we have here in St. Petersburg Florida. The number of cases reported in the state of Florida since the beginning of this year, is nearly twice the number that were reported in all of last year. The number keeps going up. The Health Department is doing their best to vaccinate everyone. It’s difficult, as they don’t have funding for marketing and staffing to see that everyone can get the vaccine. Everyone should contact their local Health Department to see what’s available for you and be vaccinated against Hepatitis A.

Wendy Ryan of ABC Action News has done an incredible job following the epidemic of hepatitis A from the very beginning. Initially it was found in a restaurant in Tampa, the Health Department in Tampa only listed one facility despite the fact that there were 4 other restaurants with employees who tested positive for hepatitis A. The restaurant was Hamburger Mary’s. He ended up losing his business in four s local restaurants. because people were afraid to come in. This is unfortunate because we can’t live in fear, we must live in faith. The best method to prevent infection is by washing your hands and at this point in time, avoiding bottom feeder shellfish such as oysters.

Please take the time to watch the 29 minute presentation, done live on Facebook with Wendy Ryan and me. You will find a lot of helpful information by listening to that segment. I encourage everyone to be vaccinated for hepatitis A and Hepatitis B, and more importantly make sure that people are being screened for Hepatitis C. Hepatitis C can be fatal if not treated. We do have treatments that are simple and can cure people in as little as 8 weeks with once a day dosing and no side effects. Talk to your doctors about the new treatment known as Mavyret. We have seen no side effects and cured over 250 people with this medication since August 2017.

Always remember: Be Happy, Help Others

Dr. Bob