TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – The number of hepatitis A cases in Florida this year has reached at least 1,978, the latest information released by the Florida Department of Health shows.

The state had 77 hepatitis A cases reported between July 14 and Saturday, and, according to the latest report from the department, “weekly case counts have steadily increased overall,” since last year.

Only Florida residents are included in the case counts released by the state. The data includes suspected and confirmed cases.

Central Florida has had the highest hepatitis A activity levels, according to a monthly report. The virus is transmitted person-to-person through fecal matter.

That can include through some types of sexual contact and people not properly washing their hands after going to the bathroom or changing diapers.

Hepatitis A can also be spread through fecal-contaminated food or water. Hepatitis A infections can cause liver damage and be severe, leading to inpatient hospitalization and sometimes death.

Since Jan. 1, 2018, Florida has had 2,526 cases, with at least 28 deaths linked to the virus, according to the state.

The Department of Health announced July 3 that it was partnering with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to try to curtail the outbreak. Health departments in Arkansas, California, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, West Virginia and Utah also have worked with the federal government on eradicating outbreaks.

Former state Surgeon General Celeste Philip issued a statewide public health advisory in Nov. 28 encouraging people to be vaccinated against the virus.

(©2019 CBS Local Media. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.)

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