The Hepatitis A Outbreak In San Diego Is Now A Public Health Emergency


The outbreak has infected nearly 400 people and left 15 dead.

Posted on September 07, 2017, 21:57 GMT

Since November 2016, the
outbreak has infected hundreds of people and left 15 dead —
with the homeless population hit the hardest.

According to the San Diego Health & Human Services
Agency (HHSA), as of Sept. 5, 2017, the current outbreak
has infected 398 people, causing 279 hospitalizations.

The San Diego HHSA wrote that the majority of the people who
have been infected with the disease are either homeless or
illicit drug users, and that the outbreak is being spread
between people through contact with a “fecally contaminated
environment” — i.e. when an uninfected or unvaccinated person
ingests food or water, touches an object, or uses drugs
contaminated with fecal matter from an infected person.

Hepatitis A epidemics can
have serious economic consequences.

Because of the virus’ ability to survive outside the body for
months (depending on the environmental conditions) as well as
its ability to withstand some food-safety processes used
to remove or reduce bacterial pathogens, epidemics can be
explosive, resulting in the shutdown of
food establishments with connections to the virus. Plus,
there’s no specific treatment for Hepatitis A other than
supportive care and it can take weeks or months for those
infected to recover and return to work and daily
responsibilities. As a result, a Hepatitis A epidemic can
seriously impact economic health, too.

San Diego county staff
will continue to provide vaccinations and implement sanitation
measures in hopes that the outbreak will subside.

According to the HSSA website, the county is also asking health
providers to inform their Epidemiology Program if have a
patient with a suspected Hepatitis A infection.

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