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Number Of Hepatitis A Cases In San Diego County Continue To Rise

This is the largest outbreak in California in the past 20 years

Mindy Coughlin, left, and Heidi Unruh, center, both San Diego County Health a...

Credit: County of San Diego

Above: Mindy Coughlin, left, and Heidi Unruh, center, both San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency Public Health Nurses and an outreach worker from Friend to Friend talk to a homeless person about getting the hepatitis A vaccination in downtown San Diego in this undated photo.

Number Of Hepatitis A Cases In San Diego County Continue To Rise

GUEST:

Dr. Sayone Thihalolipavan, deputy public health officer, San Diego County

Transcript

There is no sign San Diego County's hepatitis A outbreak is slowing down anytime soon.

According to a new report by the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency, there are now 196 confirmed cases of the viral disease, 142 hospitalizations and four deaths, making this the largest hepatitis A outbreak in California in more than two decades and the third largest in the nation since the hepatitis A vaccine was introduced in the late 1990s.

The overwhelming majority of the people affected are either homeless, drug users, or both.

The outbreak has forced health officials to resort to unconventional methods. They include sending out teams of nurses with backpacks and coolers to encampments, where they offer vaccinations. The county is also planning to install hand-washing stations in downtown San Diego and elsewhere to try to help prevent the spread of the disease.

Hepatitis A is spread through close contact and fecal contamination, and it leads to symptoms like nausea and jaundice.

County health officials expect the number of cases to continue to climb as dozens of suspected cases could soon be confirmed.

There has been no confirmed source of the outbreak.

Dr. Sayone Thihalolipavan, San Diego County's deputy public health officer gives an update on the outbreak Wednesday on Midday Edition.

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