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Hepatitis A Outbreak in California

Jamie+Lynn+Hines+cleans+up+at+a+hand-washing+station+installed+by+San+Diego+County.
Jamie Lynn Hines cleans up at a hand-washing station installed by San Diego County.

Jamie Lynn Hines cleans up at a hand-washing station installed by San Diego County.

Susan Scuttl, CNN

Susan Scuttl, CNN

Jamie Lynn Hines cleans up at a hand-washing station installed by San Diego County.

Molly Caldwell, News Journalist

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In San Diego and L.A Counties there has been an outbreak of hepatitis A. According to NBC San Diego, there has been at least 17 deaths and 461 confirmed cases of the disease, 292 of which have led to hospitalization.

Hepatitis A, a disease that affects the liver, has been fairly rare in the U.S until the outbreak starting in September of 2017. Dr. Wilma Wooten, a public health officer told CNN, ¨This is an outbreak of unprecedented proportion, and we have not seen an outbreak of this nature as relates to hepatitis A before.¨

According to CNN, 65% of the affected were either homeless or using illicit drugs. Some are a combination of the two. Wooten also told CNN, “Basically, if an individual is infected with hepatitis A and they use the bathroom and don’t wash their hands, and then they can spread or contaminate the environment: door handles, ATMs or whatever they touch.¨

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some symptoms of hepatitis A include: fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movements, joint pain or yellowing of the skin or eyes.

Hepatitis A is a preventable disease and often clears up in its own unless the infected person has pre-existing liver conditions. Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the L.A. County Department of Public Health, told Los Angeles Times, “We are very early in an outbreak and the more people who get vaccinated in the high-risk populations … the smaller the outbreak will end up being in L.A. County. This is in fact a disease that’s preventable.”

Efforts to prevent the spreading of the outbreak are being taken like bleaching the public bathrooms in the region, bleaching of ¨public right-of-ways¨, hand-washing stations and educational posters and pamphlets across the counties.

Susan Scuttl, CNN
Jamie Lynn Hines cleans up at a hand-washing station installed by San Diego County.

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Hepatitis A Outbreak in California