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San Diego Hepatitis A Outbreak is Worst in Decades

Image: San Diego Hepatitis A Outbreak is Worst in Decades

In this Sept. 28, 2017, file photo a man passes behind a sign warning of an upcoming street cleaning in San Diego. (Gregory Bull/AP/File)

By    |   Monday, 09 October 2017 12:14 PM

The San Diego hepatitis A outbreak is one of the worst the country has seen in decades, with at least 481 people reported infected, a further 17 dead since November and an additional 88 cases identified in Santa Cruz and Los Angeles, The Los Angeles Times reported.

While experts said the city had followed correct procedures in addressing the epidemic, there were certain factors unique to San Diego that ultimately contributed to the outbreak.

In this instance, it was a lack of basic hygiene and sanitation that resulted in the spread of the liver infection.

Dr. Janet Haas, president-elect of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, said per the L.A. Times that previous containment methods could not be relied on because the circumstances surrounding the outbreak were unique.

Health experts are now concerned that those already infected could spread the disease through travel.

With this in mind, they are embarking upon a rigorous campaign to vaccinate homeless populations, who are considered to be most at risk, along with other vulnerable groups including users of injection or non-injection illegal drugs and workers cleaning up after these vulnerable groups.

Speaking at a news conference at Infectious Disease Week, Monique Foster, medical epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said "vaccination is the most important component to contain a hepatitis A outbreak."

The L.A. Times reported sightings of cleaning crews attempting to sterilize the streets by cleaning them with high-pressure water mixed with bleach.

Additionally, various other campaigns have been implemented to control the situation, including having portable hand-washing stations delivered to areas highly populated by the homeless.

However, despite these attempts the disease continues to spread.

"You can't have a checklist that says 'do x, y and z,' because no outbreak is the same," Foster said, per the San Diego Union Tribune.

"The type of illness, the group of people it's affecting and how it's being spread are all factors that will impact how a government should respond and when the public should be notified."

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The San Diego hepatitis A outbreak is one of the worst the country has seen in decades, with at least 481 people reported infected and 17 dead since November.
san diego, hepatitis a, outbreak, worst
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2017-14-09
Monday, 09 October 2017 12:14 PM
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