On January 30, 2020, the Citrus County School Board sent out a letter warning parents that their child “may have been exposed to Hepatitis A.”
The letter was sent home with students from Crystal River Primary.
The school board said the letters were sent “out of an abundance of caution.”
On January 31, in an email to the Citrus Gazette, The Florida Department of Health in Citrus County wrote, “[We] have confirmed a case of hepatitis A at Crystal River Primary school.”
The FDOH said that no other cases have been identified at this time.
While it is against HIPAA regulation to identify any person who was infected, officials did confirm that it was a child who tested positive.
If your child has any of the following symptoms they should see a doctor.
Know hepatitis symptoms:
• Stomach pain
• Yellow skin or eyes (jaundice)
• No appetite
• Joint pain
• Pale or clay-colored feces
• Dark-colored urine
Know how hepatitis A spreads
Hepatitis A is caused by a contagious virus that infects the liver—it can lead to serious liver problems. The virus spreads through the feces of people who have the virus. If a person with the virus doesn’t wash their hands after going to the bathroom, feces can get on their hands and can transfer to objects, food, and drinks. When these things are shared, other people can unknowingly swallow the virus. If a person who has the virus comes in close contact or touches other people—this includes sex—the virus can also spread.
The virus is mostly spread through fecal matter when a child or adult uses the restroom and doesn’t wash their hands properly.
As a precaution, the FDOH is recommending everyone be vaccinated, but it is not mandatory. They said the case involving the student is low risk.
Many have asked if parents can send their children to school with Lysol wipes or other antibacterial products. The answer is no. The school board does not allow teachers to use Lysol wipes, alcohol-based sanitizers, or other types of cleaners such as Clorox wipes that are known to kill germs in the classroom. Essentially, leading to germs spreading more rapidly.
Even more disturbing, is that desks and other common areas touched by students are rarely disinfected with products strong enough to kill viruses like Hepatitis A.
The CDC said the virus can last weeks, even months, on a dry surface.
While alcohol-based sanitizers will kill some germs, it will not kill Hepatitis A. Hepatitis A is a microscopic virus that is very hard to kill. Most hand sanitizers will not kill Hepatitis A or norovirus.
According to the CDC, the only type of hand sanitizers that will kill Hepatitis A is the non-alcohol based sanitizers containing benzalkonium chloride.
You can disinfect hard non-porous surfaces (like a plastic toilet seat) with a Clorox Regular Bleach2 disinfecting solution as follows:
- Add 3/4 cup bleach to 1-gallon water.
- Wipe the surface clean, and then apply the disinfecting solution.
- Allow it to contact the surface for 5 minutes, and then thoroughly rinse.
- Air dry.
The FDOH and the CDC stated that the best way to prevent the spread of the virus is good personal hygiene and washing your hands.