State's hepatitis A outbreak concentrated in Bay Area

Citrus County is reporting its first cases of hepatitis A since the Tampa Bay area outbreak started several months ago.

In the five previous years combined, 1,175 cases were reported in Florida.

There have been 1,220 already this year. More than half of those - 52% - were in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando, and Polk counties. 

Pasco County has the most, per capita, cases in the state. That's nearly six cases per 1,000 people.

"You would go years without seeing a hepatitis A case," said Dr. Miguel Malespin, a hepatologist at Tampa General Hospital.

Now he sees them every week. 

Officials with the Department of Health Citrus County (DOH-Citrus) reported Tuesday they've diagnosed 13 cases this year. These are their first cases since 2015.

READ: Officials remind the public - Hepatitis A vaccine requires two shots

"It is alarming," said Malespin. "It speaks to the need for patients to be vaccinated, out in the community because that is the only way to stop this."

DOH-Citrus says its cases are mostly in homeless shelters, rehab clinics, and jail. 

But a country club in Spring Hill, a chain restaurant in Clearwater, a seafood restaurant in Sarasota, and a now-closed bar in Tampa's Ybor City have all been hit with cases. 

The DOH-Citrus is offering free vaccines Saturday, June 22, from 9 a.m. to noon, at 3700 W. Sovereign Path in Lecanto.