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World Hepatitis Day 2019: Flagler Health Department Expands Hepatitis Clinic

By Gretchen Smith

July 25, 2019

Bunnell, Fla.— The Florida Department of Health in Flagler County (DOH-Flagler) joins other health-related organizations throughout the world in recognizing World Hepatitis Day on Sunday, July 28. The intent of the annual observance is to increase the awareness and understanding of viral hepatitis as a major global health threat as 240 million people living with chronic hepatitis B and up to 150 million people living with chronic hepatitis C.

Locally, DOH-Flagler has renewed its commitment to diagnosing and treating Hepatitis after receiving grant for Hepatitis C treatment and clinic expansion. As a result, chronic Hepatitis C screening and treatment services are being offered in partnership with Flagler Cares and funding partner United Way of Volusia-Flagler Counties.

“Over the last decade, we’ve witnessed miraculous developments in terms of new and highly effective medications for hepatitis C,” said DOH Flagler’s Medical Director Dr. Stephen Bickel. “The cure rate is much higher these days and efforts have been made to reduce barriers for getting treatment, like cost. Our health department is committed to bringing these curative treatments to as many patients as possible regardless of their ability to pay.”

Hepatitis is characterized by inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis A, B, and C are the most common types of viral hepatitis in the United States. Symptoms of hepatitis, if they are present, include nausea, fever, weakness, loss of appetite and jaundice. Hepatitis A is transmitted by eating food or drinking water that has been contaminated with human waste (feces). Hepatitis B is spread through contact with the blood or body fluids of an infected person. Hepatitis C is usually spread through contact with blood containing the virus. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C (HCV). 

Since many people living with viral hepatitis do not know they have it and 1.4 million people die from the disease each year, the World Health Organization made hepatitis education, prevention and treatment one of its eight priority global health campaigns.

To take the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Viral Hepatitis Risk Assessment please go to: https://www2a.cdc.gov/hepatitis/RiskAssessment/start.html; for more information check out the CDC fact sheet on Hep A, B and C http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/abc/index.htm.

About the Florida Department of Health

The department, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.

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For information about the local health department, go to flagler.floridahealth.gov, call 386-437-7350, or visit the office at 301 Dr. Carter Blvd. in Bunnell.