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Concern is growing among parents in Martin County after hepatitis A outbreak

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Posted at 5:46 PM, Apr 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-05 18:48:52-04

PALM CITY, Fla. - Concern is growing among parents in Martin County. Doctor's offices have been flooded with calls as the health department is working to calm fears about a hepatitis A outbreak in the community.

Phones were ringing off the hook inside All About Kids Pediatrics in Palm City Friday. 'Lots of phone calls from concerned families asking if their children had been vaccinated if we had the vaccine," said Dr. Kris Walker.

Walker has been a pediatrician for decades. Now, in light of the news, she's working to educate parents about the contagious liver disease.

"There should be some concern, but children typically have a more mild course of hepatitis A than adults do," Walker said.

The health department faxed out a flyer Friday alerting doctor’s offices about the 13 confirmed cases in Martin County. Hepatitis A is spread person and person, but it can also be a food-bourne illness, so the health department is reaching out to local restaurants and businesses.

"What I want to let you know as a community things are under control, this is not an unusual thing to occur even throughout our nation," said Martin County Fire Rescue Chief Bill Schobel.

Martin County health officials said hepatitis A is a statewide issue, but it has been linked to two deaths in Palm City. Dr. Walker recommends getting vaccinated, and practicing good hygiene.

"If the number gets in the hundreds or thousands, than that outbreak lasts a long time, but this number is very small so I'm certainly hopeful that this outbreak might just be a relatively small thing that will pass by quickly," Walker said.

Dr. Walker also pointed out the symptoms are similar to the flu, meaning you should immediately seek medical attention to be safe. She says the vaccine is given as two shots, six months apart. To prevent the disease, always wash your hands after using the bathroom and before preparing food.