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

Homeless Areas To Be Washed With Bleach-Spiked Water To Combat Hepatitis A Outbreak

Officials with the City of San Diego said 15 people have died in the city from a Hepatitis A outbreak that is mainly affecting the homeless population.

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 response, the city has been spraying down certain streets in the East Village area of downtown San Diego.

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.

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

More than 7,000 shots have been given to people considered to be at-risk of acquiring the disease, and over 19,000 shots given out in total, according to the HHSA.

Amid an outbreak across San Diego County that health officials say has led to 16 deaths and almost 300 hospitalizations, workers were power-washing areas in downtown San Diego earlier this week with water laced with chlorine and bleach, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

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Hand hygiene is a focus of the public health effort to end the outbreak because the virus spreads when people don't wash their hands well enough after going to the bathroom and then share food, drink, drugs, sex or other close contact with an uninfected person. It seems to have primarily affected the homeless population and the city's illicit drug users.

Sanitary street washing has commenced in downtown San Diego, and will continue until the outbreak abates. There are plans, according to the city's letter, to add more stations next week.

Around 40 hand-washing stations have been set up around the city - concentrated in areas where the homeless congregate.

Meanwhile, additional San Diego police escorts will be provided for the county's mobile vaccination teams and expanded vaccination clinics will be opened at public libraries. Now, public health officials are requesting that food handlers obtain vaccinations (if they aren't already vaccinated). "A person who becomes infected with hepatitis A may spread the disease to others before experiencing symptoms. In an occupation such as handling food, workers may expose more members of the public than workers in other occupations".

Health authorities are still trying to pin the source and cause of this outbreak.

This is critical, as our downtown area is famed for some wonderful restaurants.

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