If you live or work in Tampa Bay, by now, you have heard about the hepatitis A epidemic in Florida. Florida officials have declared a statewide health advisory on the virus. Business owners, HR Directors, C-Suite Executives, and employees are all talking about the issue and how it can affect employees and their families.
Insight Wellness Works is concerned as well and we researched the topic and put together key information from the experts that you and your staff need to know about hepatitis A. We do not want to cause any panic or fear but knowledge about a subject matter can be used to help people. Our sources for this article are ABCActionNews.com, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Florida Department of Health (DOH), News Channel 8, and South Florida SunSentinel. Please consult a medical team if you find that you are dealing with hepatitis in your workplace.
Here is what we found to help you, your business and your employees.
According to South Florida SunSentinel, “in the last 15 months, Florida has seen an outbreak of more than 1,400 people with Hepatitis A, with cases in every county. At this time, the bulk of the cases — about 400 of them — are in Pinellas and Pasco counties”.
It is a very communicable disease involving the liver. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that “it is usually transmitted person-to-person through the fecal-oral route or consumption of contaminated water or food”. It is a self-limited disease that does not result in chronic infection.
Most adults with hepatitis A have symptoms which include:
The virus can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. Hepatitis A can cause death in some people which is rare.
Most children less than six years of age do not have symptoms or have an unrecognized infection. Antibodies produced in response to hepatitis A infection last for life and protect against reinfection.
The Florida Department of Health (DOH) states that “Hepatitis A spreads through the feces of those infected with the virus. If the infected person doesn’t thoroughly wash their hands after using the restroom, the traces of feces can transfer to objects, food, drinks or drugs they touch. The virus then spreads from person to person if the said contaminated food, drink, object or drugs are ingested. The virus can also spread during close contact, like sex”.
Here is a list of hepatitis A cases being investigated in Tampa Bay restaurants.
Within four weeks after exposure, symptoms will present themselves. They can occur within two weeks or as late as seven weeks after exposure.
Unvaccinated people who have been exposed recently (within two weeks) to the hepatitis A virus should get the hepatitis A vaccine or a shot of immune globulin to prevent severe illness according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
A doctor can determine if you have hepatitis A by discussing your symptoms and taking a blood sample.
Hepatitis A symptoms usually resolve within two months of the infection.
If you have been diagnosed with hepatitis A, doctors recommend:
Prevention is one of the best ways for you to prevent contracting the virus. Here are some preventative measures to protect you and your employees.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that the best way to prevent hepatitis A infection is to get vaccinated. The first vaccine became available in 1995. The vaccine requires two shots, six months apart for long-term protection.
The Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County (DOH-Pinellas) offers hepatitis A vaccines to the public at no cost and appointments are not necessary at several vaccine centers. For more information on where you can get these free vaccines in Pinellas County, you can click here. Other Florida counties also provide free or discounted hepatitis A vaccines. You can click here for more information.
Wash your hands after you use the bathroom—alcohol-based hand sanitizers do not kill hepatitis A germs. Use soap and warm, running water and wash for at least 20 seconds.
WASH BEFORE YOU: prepare food or work with food that isn’t already packaged.
WASH AFTER YOU: use the bathroom; touch people or public surfaces; change a diaper; cough, sneeze or use a tissue; use tobacco; and eat or drink.
Boiling or Cooking
Boiling or cooking food or liquids for at least a minute at 185°F (85°C) kills the virus. Freezing food or water does not affect the virus.
Let Insight Wellness Works help you make a positive connection between healthy employees and company performance with a Workplace Wellness Program for your employees.
Insight Wellness Works is based in St. Petersburg, Florida and has been serving employers in Tampa Bay and its surrounding cities since 2010. We have a large team of credentialed wellness professionals offering a variety of workplace wellness services that focus on health promotion and disease prevention. We change lives and transform the culture of health in workplaces. Contact us today at 727-742-9137 to discuss how we can help your business and employees achieve wellness goals.