Officials in San Diego are calling a rash of Hepatitis A cases a “public health emergency” as the county begins taking precautions. Yet so far, 15 people have died from Hepatitis A and another 400 have been treated in the hospital. The homeless population has accounted for the largest demographic to get the infection.
As per The Union-Tribune, the emergency declaration makes it easier for San Diego county to seek financial and infrastructure assistance from the state of California. This includes changes to sanitation processes. Portable hand-washing stations are being set up in the area to give access to the homeless in hopes of cutting down on the spread. Hepatitis A spreads through fecal matter. The county will also use high-pressure bleach washing as a way to counter potentially contaminated surfaces, including streets.
“The city continues to stand ready to support the county’s Health and Human Services Agency in its plans to provide vaccinations, sanitation, and education to San Diegans as we battle this outbreak,” Mayor Kevin Faulconer said. “We must continue to work collaboratively to stop this crisis and save lives.”
Vaccination has been the most predominant preventative measure against the spread of Hepatitis A, until now. “though thousands of doses of vaccine were distributed, infection rates have not slowed much – and death reports have accelerated in recent weeks.”
The county will now rely on sanitation measure.