A California hepatitis A outbreak is now on the verge of going statewide. Homeless people living in tents in San Diego (the home of the outbreak) have now reportedly spread the infection north as far as Sacramento. The outbreak was first noted back in November. Cases have now spread to Santa Cruz, San Francisco, and other destinations. Many are now fearing the worst.
To date, 569 infections have been tallied as well as 17 deaths. In 2015, California only registered 179 cases total.
The potential reason for the outbreak is startling, to say the least. In July of 2016, the Major League Baseball All-Star game was held in downtown San Diego’s Petco park. The city wanted to clear out the streets of the homeless, so in an effort to usher them out, they shut off public bathrooms and forced the homeless to tent city locations.
A second theory is that the city’s environmental legislation which bans plastic bags caused the homeless to have less options for dealing with human excrement.
Since 1998, hep A deaths and outbreaks have consistently lowered, that is, until now.
California homeless advocates are now forcing tent cities into publically owned spaces in other cities to accommodate the needs. The advocates are calling California’s position on the homeless as “post-slavery Jim Crow and Depression era anti-Okie laws.”
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California, a state in the throes of financial doom and gloom, contains 21% of all the homeless people in the United States. Some of that is the result of blundered finances, but it is also a result of moderate weather conditions.
Dr. Monique Foster, told the Los Angeles Times that California’s hepatitis A outbreak will persist, despite prevention: “It’s not unusual for them to last quite some time — usually over a year, one to two years.”
Paramedics are now vaccinating homeless people in the region. The state has given the paramedics emergency power to “vaccinate at-risk populations in response to the outbreak.”
Paramedics will be able to deliver hepatitis A doses only under the supervision of nurses and only at special events created to inoculate those who are at high risk of infection, including homeless residents, drug users and those with liver disease or compromised immune systems.
Usually only nurses and doctors are allowed to give the vaccine.
“Paramedics already have basic skills in terms of delivering injections, and this approval allows us to give them extra training to do vaccination but only in very specific settings with very specific oversight,” Koenig said, adding that they will not be able to administer vaccines during emergency calls.
BUT, at least the All-Star game went off without a hitch…