PALM CITY, Fla. — The District 19 Medical Examiner’s office confirmed Thursday that a Palm City husband and wife, whose deaths were considered suspicious, were the result of complications related to hepatitis A.
Local attorney Jeffrey Kirsch and his wife, Nancy, were discovered deceased inside their Sunset Trace home.
Shortly after WPTV first reported the cause of death, another man approached WPTV’s Meghan McRoberts, saying he and his wife were also recently diagnosed with hepatitis A. They live on the same street and in the same block as the Kirsch family.
“I’d like an investigation done to figure out where this came from,” the man said, who did not want to be identified. He provided medical records proving his diagnosis and his wife's diagnosis.
He started having symptoms two weeks ago.
“I’m still having sweats and still exhausted,” the man said. He’s slowly getting better. “I got up to a 103.8 fever and I was completely dehydrated to where I had to go to the hospital.”
When he went to the hospital, he learned what was giving him “flu-like” symptoms. “Came back that I tested positive for hepatitis [A],” he said.
His wife began having symptoms soon after.
“I was completely shocked. The first thing that came to me is I have three children…It went to worrying about them before worrying about myself and they all have the vaccine,” the man said.
They have been trying to determine where they might have contracted the virus, known to spread through exposure to fecal matter from someone who has the virus, such as if someone with hepatitis A handles food without washing their hands, or it can be spread through physical contact.
“When you’re in bed for two weeks, you rack your brain day in and day out trying to figure out where this could have come from,” the man said.
Hearing the cause of death of his neighbors has him deeply concerned and wanting answers.
“It's scary to know we have two people that are dead and now we’re infected as well. There could be other people that have it and they don’t know yet.”
At least half a dozen deputies with the Martin County Sheriff’s Office responded to the Kirsch’s home when they were sick through a series of welfare checks.
That includes animal control officers who responded to the home to remove several pets after the couple was discovered deceased. Medical staff for the sheriff’s office is monitoring the health of those deputies and taking appropriate precautionary health measures.
The Florida Department of Health confirmed Martin County is currently considered a "high risk" area for the virus, and is urging people to be vaccinated.
Twelve cases of hepatitis A have been confirmed in Martin County since January 2019. It takes five cases for a county to be considered a high risk area for hepatitis A.
Doctors say if you are not vaccinated, you are at risk. Practicing good hygiene and washing hands often is important.
Symptoms of hepatitis A include fever, loss of appetite, nausea, abdominal discomfort and jaundice.
"Most people if you are healthy, you're not going to get sick and die from this. Most people will get the symptoms but then get better," said Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center Dr. Jamie Snarski.
The incubation period of hepatitis A is 28 days and symptoms can last two months.