A food service worker at the Toasted Monkey Beach Bar on St. Pete Beach tested positive for hepatitis A, Pinellas County health officials announced Monday, marking the second such incident in the last two weeks in Tampa Bay.
The two cases, along with a general rise in hepatitis A cases in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, are prompting officials to urge that the public get vaccinated against the virus.
After a lab test, the virus was confirmed in the Toasted Monkey worker on Nov. 1, which led the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County to investigate. Now the department is urging anyone who frequented the restaurant at 6110 Gulf Blvd. between Oct. 17-28 to get vaccinated.
Last month, after an employee at Hamburger Mary’s restaurant in Ybor City tested positive for hepatitis A, the health department in Hillsborough County received 400 calls and administered 620 free hepatitis A vaccines to patrons of the restaurant.
Hepatitis A is spread person-to-person through feces contaminated with the virus. Practicing proper hygiene is essential when protecting against hepatitis A.
Symptoms include fever, dark urine, yellow-tinged skin or eyes, fatigue and gastric issues. It can cause damage to the liver, especially among those who already have liver disease.
The virus is on the rise across the country, including in Florida. Most cases are in young adult to middle-aged white men, health officials say. About half of those patients report drug use, he said.
One-year-old children, transient people, users of recreational drugs, gay men and international travelers are encouraged to be vaccinated as soon as possible.