TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – Florida has recorded nearly 900 cases of hepatitis A this year, a sharp decrease from last year, but far more than in most years.

The state has had 46 reported cases in October, bringing the total this year to 884 as of Saturday, according to the Florida Department of Health website.

State Surgeon General Scott Rivkees in August 2019 declared a public health emergency as cases surged, and the state finished last year with 3,406 cases.

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That number — and the total so far this year — dwarf most years. Florida had 123 cases in 2015, 122 cases in 2016, 276 cases in 2017 and 548 cases in 2018, according to the Department of Health.

Hepatitis A can cause liver damage and is spread through such things as fecal matter, sexual contact and intravenous drug use.

While the number of cases is down this year from 2019, the Department of Health has indicated that the COVID-19 pandemic could be playing a role in the data.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting health care-seeking behavior, which may be impacting the diagnosis and reporting of hepatitis A cases that are shown in this report,” the department website said.

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