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Victim's friend wants more investigation of Hepatitis A outbreak

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Colin Holmes, 75, died from Hepatitis A last month. (Lloyd Rogers)(MGN)

The number of Hepatitis A cases is on the rise in Florida.

According to the state health department, there are now nearly 2,200 confirmed cases--- almost 70 new ones just in the past week.

For one Treasure Coast man, not knowing the source of the Hep-A outbreak is personal-- and he wants answers.

One man says this quiet neighborhood---Lighthouse Point in Palm City---just isn’t the same.

He’s saddened and extremely upset that his neighbor---a person he was very close to---died recently due to Hepatitis A.

“I lost one of the best friends of my life. I think it was terrible," said Lloyd Rogers, Palm City resident.

Rogers misses a man that he had a special bond with.

Colin Holmes, Jr., 75, lived right next door for more than 20 years and Rogers says their families spent a lot of time together.

They liked working on cars and going fishing and spending the holidays together.

Holmes passed away on June 18. He was diagnosed with Hepatitis A in March and never recovered.

“He was more than a friend. He was like an older brother I never had. He helped us, he looked out for our family," Rogers said.

Holmes is the latest one of four people in Martin County who’ve died from Hepatitis A this year.

Holmes graduated from Vero Beach High and managed an auto parts store before retiring.

Rogers says as the weeks go by since Holmes’ death in mid-June, he finds it frustrating that the health department has not been able to find the source of the deadly Hepatitis A outbreak.

"What they should be doing is find out where this came from, what they could do to stop it. They have to do more, they have to do more to protect the people," Rogers said.

He feels they need to put more effort into it and make it a greater priority.

“Because anybody living in these communities are good hard-working people and we don’t need to get sickened by a disease like this that took my friend. It’s terrible," Rogers said.

He feels health authorities need to get more people on the ground to find the source of the Hepatitis A outbreak so people can be safe.

We asked Holmes’ widow for an interview. She declined our request, saying she’s a very private person and this is still too difficult to talk about.

We asked the Florida Dept. of Health-Martin County to respond to the view that they are not doing enough to find the source of the hepatitis A outbreak that has claimed 4 lives in Martin County.

They sent us an email that says: “Our community is one of many communities across the state and the nation experiencing a hepatitis A outbreak. There is not one source for the spread of the virus. That is why it is essential that people take steps to protect themselves through good hand washing and vaccination. Staff from the Florida Department of Health are focused on prevention and are working with partners to provide education and vaccination throughout Martin County.”

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