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San Diego Launches New Effort To Tackle Hepatitis A Outbreak

San Diego city and county officials speak at a press conference on the city's...

Photo by Christopher Maue

Above: San Diego city and county officials speak at a press conference on the city's hepatitis A outbreak, Sept. 19, 2017.

San Diego city and county officials launched a new effort Tuesday to further educate the public about hepatitis A vaccinations and sanitary precautions.

County-led health teams have been mobilized since March to deal with the outbreak that has killed 16 people and infected about 400 others. County Supervisor Ron Roberts said sanitation and education efforts are being bolstered.

RELATED: Hepatitis A Outbreak Declared In Los Angeles County

The most effective way to fight the contagious liver disease is by vaccinating at-risk populations, according to health officials. Most cases to date have been identified in patients who are homeless or drug users, but include workers at a health care facility working with those patients.

"This is our community and we are working day and night to take care of it," Mayor Kevin Faulconer said "It is going to require a sustained effort and everyone in San Diego County has a role to play."

In the past several months, county officials have made vaccines available free to the public, including those in homeless encampments and other hepatitis A hot spots. Officials said more than 22,000 people have been vaccinated so far. To continue the momentum in battling the virus, the city of San Diego has partnered with the county to provide free vaccinations at public libraries through December.

RELATED: General Public Considered At Low Risk In Hepatitis A Outbreak

Other sanitation measures have included the installment of 41 hand- washing stations and a new 24-hour restroom facility in the downtown area, where homeless people tend to congregate. Currently, there are 21 public restrooms downtown. The operating hours of 14 restrooms in Balboa Park have also been expanded to 24 hours a day, and city street are being power-washed and bleached on a regular basis.

Health officials in Los Angeles County said today that they are also dealing with their own hepatitis A outbreak.

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