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After 15 die in hepatitis outbreak, San Diego begins sanitary street washing

13 September 2017

San Diego has been battling with an extremely aggressive outbreak of Hepatitis A, an infection that targets the liver and may result in death in severe cases.

City officials are using water spiked with bleach to help combat a deadly outbreak of hepatitis A in San Diego.

San Diego County's hepatitis A outbreak shows no signs of slowing, according to the latest update released Tuesday by the county Health and Human Services Agency.

The county declared a local public health emergency on September 1, enhancing an ongoing vaccination campaign with the installation of hand-washing stations in locations where homeless residents, who have been hit hardest by the outbreak, gather.

In January's annual tally of the area's transient population, 5,619 homeless individuals were counted in the city of San Diego, a 10.3 percent increase from a year ago. A total of 256 mass vaccination events as well as 109 "foot teams" consisting of public health nurses who have been deployed into areas heavily populated with homeless people to offer vaccinations.

Sanitary street washing has commenced in downtown San Diego, and will continue until the outbreak abates.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer's office has responded to a letter from the county government that asked the city to come up with specific sanitation actions. In an August 31 letter from the county health department, officials asked the city to move forward with the sanitation measures and gave the city five days to respond with a plan, according to the LA Times.

Also, around 40 hand-washing stations were set up around the city - concentrated in areas where the homeless congregate - around the beginning of the Labor Day weekend.

Disinfecting streets in affected areas is one of the measures demanded by county health officials in a letter to the city.

The county's plan calls for the city to regularly pressure-wash dirty streets with a chlorine solution and to "immediately expand access to public restrooms and wash stations within the city limits that are adjacent to at-risk populations", according to the LA Times. Now, public health officials are requesting that food handlers obtain vaccinations (if they aren't already vaccinated).

County officials, meanwhile, are continuing a program of vaccinations, which are considered to be the best way to prevent hepatitis A. The disease is spread by contact with microscopic amounts of infected feces and via sexual transmission.

As of today, September 12, 2017, the source of the outbreak has not been identified.

After 15 die in hepatitis outbreak, San Diego begins sanitary street washing