Articles Posted in Hepatitis A Outbreak

Florida had 58 hepatitis A cases reported last week, bringing the total number of cases this year to 3,028 as of Saturday, according to the state Department of Health.

Sarasota County led the state in the number of new cases last week with eight, followed by Volusia County with seven, according to a News Service of Florida analysis of the data.

As of Saturday, 274 cases of hepatitis A had been reported this year in Volusia County, while the number of cases in Sarasota County stood at 92. Pasco County led the state with 404 cases, including two new cases last week.

Pinellas County had one new hepatitis A case last week, bringing its total for the year to 376, according to the News Service analysis of the state data.

Hepatitis A, 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.

State Surgeon General Scott Rivkees, who doubles as secretary of the Department of Health, has used $3 million in funds from county health departments to hire additional workers to help vaccinate high-risk populations, including homeless people, drug users and gay men.

Hepatitis A is a liver disease that is caused by an infection from hepatitis A virus. What is shocking about this illness is that not everyone who is infected with the virus will have symptoms of the illness. In most cases, the illness is results in mild, flu-like gastrointestinal symptoms. In the worst cases, hepatitis A can impair proper functioning of the liver and even lead to death.

The hepatitis A virus is a collection of molecules that uses the body’s method of constructing new material to produce copies of itself. When the virus uses a human host to reproduce itself, the human host often becomes ill in its effort to fight the virus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), every year in the United States an estimated 143,000 cases of hepatitis A infection occurs, but only around 30,000 are reported. Hepatitis A is also responsible for an estimated 1.4 million cases worldwide each year.

You may be wondering how this virus is spread to others. The hepatitis A virus is spread from person to person by “fecal-oral” transmission. This means the virus is transmitted when a person puts something in their mouth that has been contaminated with the fecal matter of a person infected with the virus. Because this virus depends on the fecal-oral route for transmission, the illness is most easily spread under poor sanitary conditions or where good personal hygiene is not observed. 

Outbreaks are often traced back to contaminated food. Food supplies can become contaminated when infected workers come into contact with food supplies during processing or in restaurants. If a restaurant worker has the hepatitis A virus and does not wash their hands after using the restroom, they can then transfer the virus to others during food preparation.  

Foods that are most commonly associated with outbreaks are water, shellfish, and salads. In most cases, the true source is water that has been contaminated with the feces of an infected person. Other common food sources are cold cuts, pre-made sandwiches, unwashed fruit, fruit juices, milk products, vegetables, salads, shellfish, and iced drinks.

Most people who become infected with hepatitis A return back to normal health. This virus is more common in children, but is often more severe in adults. More than one-fifth of adult hepatitis A patients require hospitalization. In the most severe cases, hepatitis A can cause inflammation and swelling of the liver, which can impair liver function and cause permanent damage to the liver. Most of these cases require hospitalization. Each year approximately 100 people die as a result of these infections in the U.S.

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Derby Lane in Pinellas County has announced an employee has been diagnosed with Hepatitis A.

Known for its live greyhound racing, poker and dining events, Derby Lane took the potential exposure very seriously, according to reports.

The business worked closely with the Health Department during the investigation.

The employee was diagnosed on September 22 and has been treated, according to reports.

The employee is not allowed to return to work until cleared by the Florida Department of Health.

As of September 30, 2019, the state of Florida has had 3,174 total cases of hepatitis A. Of these cases, 2,255, or 71%, have resulted in hospitalization. Since January 1, 2018, 43 deaths related to hepatitis A have been recorded in Florida.

In the United States, as of October 4, 2019, there have been 26,789 total hepatitis A cases reported from 30 states. Of these, 16,157, or 61%, have resulted in hospitalization. A total of 274 deaths have been recorded.

What Is Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection that is caused by the hepatitis A virus. This is one of several types of hepatitis viruses that result in inflammation and affects your liver’s ability to function. Most people contract hepatitis A from contaminated food or water or by having intimate contact with someone who is already infected. While mild cases do not require treatment, severe cases can result in permanent liver damage.

Symptoms of Hepatitis A

It can be hard to tell right away if you have contracted hepatitis A as the symptoms of hepatitis A infections usually do not surface for a few weeks. Symptoms of hepatitis A include, but are not limited to:

  • Low-grade fever
  • Dark urine
  • Muscle pain
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain near your liver on your right side beneath your ribs
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes

To further complicate matters, not everyone with hepatitis A will develop these signs or symptoms. You can easily be exposed to hepatitis A and spread it to others without knowing that you have it.

If you are experiencing any symptoms at all that you think could be linked to hepatitis A, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor will recommend a vaccine or immunoglobulin therapy within two weeks of exposure to prevent infection. You should also see a doctor if you:

  • Dined at a restaurant, such as Derby Lane in Pinellas County, which reported a hepatitis A food poisoning outbreak.
  • Live with someone who has been diagnosed with it.
  • Recently had sexual relations with someone who has hepatitis A.

Causes of Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is most often spread through the ingestion of fecal matter. This most commonly happens in restaurants when someone serves food without carefully washing their hands. Drinking contaminated water or having sex with someone who has the virus can cause an infection as well. Even if someone is not currently suffering from hepatitis A symptoms, they can still spread the infection to you.

Preventing Hepatitis A

  • Hepatitis A Vaccine: The hepatitis A vaccine is typically administered in two doses. Young children, lab workers, people with chronic liver disease and those traveling in areas that have a high rate of hepatitis A, are strongly encouraged to get the vaccine.
  • Take precautions: If you are traveling in regions where there is a high incidence of hepatitis A, take preventive measures to protect yourself and others, such as washing fruits and vegetables, using bottled water and avoiding undercooked meat and fish.
  • Good hygiene: Always wash your hands after going to the bathroom, before preparing food or eating and after changing a baby’s diaper.

Pursuing Compensation for Hepatitis A

If you have been exposed to hepatitis A in Tampa Bay or anywhere else in Florida, you may be able to pursue financial compensation for damages including medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, cost of medication, pain and suffering and emotional distress. Our Tampa Bay Hepatitis A Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can provide you with more information regarding your legal rights.

Hepatitis A Food Poisoning Lawyers in Pinellas County

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There has been another case of hepatitis A involving a Pinellas County restaurant worker.

The Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County said the employee works at Gulfport Family Restaurant on 49th Street South.

Residents who dined at the restaurant from June 4-11 and haven’t been vaccinated for hepatitis A should contact their doctor or the health department.

Anyone with specific questions about exposure to hepatitis A at Gulfport Family Restaurant can call (727) 824-6932 to reach the Epidemiology staff.

Hepatitis A is on the rise in Florida counties, and our Hepatitis A Outbreak in Attorneys at Whittel & Melton urge you to get vaccinated and wash your hands. The vaccine and handwashing can stop the spread of this disease. Wash your hands after you use the bathroom, as alcohol-based hand sanitizers do not kill hepatitis A germs. Use soap and warm water and wash for at least 20 seconds. You need to wash your hands before you prepare food or work with food that is not already packaged. You need to wash your hands 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. While it may seem like a no-brainer, these simple tasks can stop these outbreaks from continuously happening.

Since Jan. 2018, 18 Floridians who have contracted the virus have died. The outbreak has been linked to restaurant workers testing positive for the disease.

What is hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is caused by a contagious virus that infects the liver, and can lead to serious liver problems, hospitalization and death. As we mentioned before, there is a vaccine that prevents the virus.

How does hepatitis A spread?

The virus is spread through the feces of people who have the virus. That is why washing your hands is so important. If a person with the virus doesn’t wash their hands after going to the bathroom, feces can transfer to objects, food, drinks or drugs. When these things are shared, other people can unknowingly swallow the virus. If a person who has the virus comes in close contact with others, like sexual intercourse, the virus can also spread.

People at highest risk are:

  • In direct contact with someone who has hepatitis A
  • Homeless or in unstable housing
  • Injection or non-injection drug users
  • Travelers to countries where hepatitis A is common
  • Household members or caregivers of a recent adoptee from countries where hepatitis A is common


  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dark urine
  • Diarrhea
  • Clay-colored bowel movements
  • Joint pain
  • Jaundice (yellow skin or eyes)

A person can have hepatitis A for up two weeks without feeling sick, and during that time can spread the virus to others. Symptoms usually start two to six weeks after infection and last less than two months.

From January 1, 2018 through June 15, 2019, 2,109 hepatitis A cases were reported. The number of reported hepatitis A cases more than doubled from 2016 to 2017 and nearly doubled again in 2018 after remaining relatively stable in previous years. The number of case counts in 2019 have already surpassed those in 2018.

Tampa Bay seems to be at the center of the outbreak. Here is a list of restaurants where hepatitis A has been confirmed:

Hillsborough County:

  • Ulele
    1810 N Highland Avenue, Tampa
    Joint investigation: Feb. 6
  • IHOP
    11350 Bloomingdale Avenue, Riverview
    Joint investigation: July 2
  • Hamburger Mary’s
    1800 East 8th Avenue, Tampa
    Joint investigation: Oct. 24
  • Golf Club at Cypress Creek
    1011 Cypress Village Blvd, Sun City Center
    Joint investigation: Nov. 14
  • Sandpiper Grille
    1702 S Pebble Beach Blvd., Sun City Center
    Joint investigation: April 3

Pinellas County:

  • Ferg’s Sports Bar & Grill
    1320 Central Ave, St. Petersburg
    Case confirmed to owner on April 15
    Joint investigation: April 18
  • Quaker Steak & Lube
    10400 49th St., Clearwater
    Joint investigation: Aug. 31
  • Treasure Island Bar
    245 108 Ave., Treasure Island
    Case confirmed in bartender
    Joint investigation: Dec. 4
  • Subway
    31087 Cortez Blvd.
    Joint investigation: March 22
  • Toasted Monkey
    6110 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach
    Case confirmed in line cook
    Joint investigation: Nov. 2
  • Tony’s Pizzeria
    422 Cleveland Street
    Joint investigation: Nov. 29
  • Taco Bell
    8671 Ulmerton Rd, Largo
    Joint investigation: Dec. 5
  • Taco Bell
    40976 N US Hwy 19, Tarpon Springs
    Infectious period: April 12 – April 14
  • Pollo Tropical
    2140 Gulf To Bay Blvd, Clearwater
    Joint investigation: March 25
  • Jimmy’s Fish House
    521 S Gulfview Blvd, Clearwater Beach
    Joint investigation: April 2

Pasco County:

  • Timber Greens Country Club
    6333 Timber Greens Blvd., New Port Richey
    Joint investigation: Oct. 25
  • Ollies on the Beach
    6438 Clark Street, Hudson
    Joint investigation: Jan. 25
  • Cracker Barrel
    5341 US Hwy 19, New Port Richey
    Joint investigation: Feb. 18
  • Bob Katz Bar and Grill
    12340 US Hwy 19 N, Hudson
    Joint investigation: April 1
  • ICON Gentlemen’s Club
    18728 U.S. Hwy 19, Hudson

Sarasota County:

  • Pizza Burger N Tacos
    1409 Main St, Sarasota
    Joint investigation: Dec. 2018
  • Spring Hill Suites of Sarasota
    1020 University Pkwy, Sarasota
    Joint investigation: Jan. 11

Hernando County:

  • The Grill at Silverhorn Inc.
    4550 Golf Club Lane, Spring Hill
    Patrons may have been exposed between April 12-30

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Since Jan. 1, 2018, 18 Floridians have contracted the Hepatitis A virus and died.

More recently, a Pinellas County restaurant worker has tested positive for the disease, making this the sixth time a Pinellas County food service worker has tested positive for the disease.

A Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County epidemiological investigation confirmed Friday that an employee of the Friendly Fisherman at 150 John’s Pass Boardwalk Place in Madeira Beach was infected while working at the restaurant between May 7 and May 20.

Anyone who ate at this restaurant during this period who have not been vaccinated for hepatitis A should consider getting vaccinated, said DOH officials.

Those who ate at the Friendly Fisherman between May 7 and May 20 can receive free vaccinations at the following clinics:

  • DOH-Pinellas is offering the vaccine at the following locations Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.:
  • St. Petersburg: 205 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N.
  • Pinellas Park: 6350 76th Ave. N.
  • Mid-County (Largo): 8751 Ulmerton Road
  • Clearwater: 310 N. Myrtle Ave.
  • Tarpon Springs: 301 S. Disston Ave.

The Florida Department of Health is closely monitoring an outbreak of the virus in Florida, and Tampa Bay is the epicenter.

The shocking numbers show that since January 2018, 1,768 people have tested positive for Hepatitis A, which is more than double the number from 2016 to 2017.

And being that we are only five months into 2019, the number of cases – 898- has already surpassed the total number of cases in 2018.

Of the 1,768 total cases in Florida from Jan. 1, 2018, to May 18, 2019, 834 of the cases were in Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties. Pinellas County had the highest number of cases – 357.

Even more shocking is that the outbreak isn’t showing signs of abating. Between May 12 and May 18, there were 89 cases reported in Florida.

The DOH confirmed 97 percent of the cases since January 2018 were contracted locally with 21 percent of the cases linked to other cases in Florida.

Here is what you need to know about Hepatitis A:

  • Hepatitis A is caused by a contagious virus that infects the liver, and can lead to serious liver problems, hospitalization and, as has been reported,  death.
  • The virus spreads through the feces of people who have the virus. If a person with the virus doesn’t wash his or her hands after going to the bathroom, feces can transfer to objects, food, drinks or drugs. When these things are shared, other people can unknowingly swallow the virus.
  • The virus can also spread through close contact, such as sexual relations.
  • Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable disease if given within two weeks after exposure. Those exposed should receive the first dose of the hepatitis A immunization immediately and a second dose in six months.
  • Symptoms of a hepatitis A infection include sudden onset of abdominal discomfort, dark urine, fever, diarrhea, pale white stools, and yellow skin and eyes (jaundice).
  • Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek medical attention promptly. The DOH has set up a 24-hour hotline for people who have questions about hepatitis A. The number to call is 727-824-6932.

Florida is the third largest state in the nation, so the health department is not surprised the numbers have been rising.

The state’s ongoing opioid crisis is also a factor. The largest population of people infected are homeless men between 30 and 50 years old who use drugs.

Since January, cases have been confirmed at the following restaurants in Tampa Bay:

  • ICON Gentlemen’s Club, 18728 U.S. 19, Hudson, April 24
  • Ulele, 1810 N. Highland Ave., Tampa, Feb. 6
  • Taco Bell, 40976 U.S. 19 N., Tarpon Springs, April 12
  • Hellas Bakery, 785 Dodecanese Blvd., Tarpon Springs, March 19
  • Central Park Inc., 7657 State Road 54, New Port Richey, Jan. 19
  • Jimmy’s Fish House and Iguana Bar, 521 S. Gulfview Blvd., Clearwater Beach, March 19
  • Pollo Tropical, 2140 Gulf to Bay Blvd., Clearwater, March 25
  • Sandpipe Grille, 702 S. Pebble Beach Blvd., Sun City Center, April 3
  • Ferg’s Sports Bar & Grill, 1320 Central Ave, St. Petersburg, April 15
  • Ollies on the Beach, 6438 Clark St., Hudson, Jan. 25
  • Cracker Barrel, 5341 U.S. 19, New Port Richey, Feb. 18
  • Bob Katz Bar and Grill, 12340 U.S. 19 N., Hudson, April 1
  • Arby’s, 30263 U.S. 19 N., Clearwater, April 5
  • Silverthorn Country Club, 4550 Golf Club Lane, Spring Hill, April 12

The Florida Department of Health is actively working to vaccinate those most at risk for the hepatitis A infection including:

  • All children at age 1 year
  • People who are homeless
  • Users of recreational drugs, whether injected or not
  • Gay and bi-sexual men
  • People with direct contact with others who have hepatitis A
  • Travelers to countries where hepatitis A is common
  • People with chronic or long-term liver disease, including hepatitis B or hepatitis C
  • People with clotting-factor disorders
  • Family and caregivers of children adopted from countries where hepatitis A is common

To further complicate the Hepatitis A outbreak, symptoms of this disease do not show in everyone infected. You may be exposed to it and spread it to others without knowing that you have it. According to the Center For Disease Control and Prevention, it can take up to 50 days from exposure to the illness for symptoms to develop. If you are experiencing symptoms that point to hepatitis A, our Florida Hepatitis A Attorneys at Whittel & Melton urge you to see a doctor right away. Getting a vaccine or immunoglobulin therapy within two weeks of exposure can prevent infection.

If you have been exposed to Hepatitis A in Pinellas County or anywhere else in Florida, you may be able to pursue financial compensation for damages including medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, cost of medication, pain and suffering and emotional distress. Hepatitis A injuries and deaths fall under food poisoning litigation and food safety. If you are the victim of an outbreak involving Hepatitis A or you have suffered any other foodborne illness, we can help you pursue damages related to the infection.

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