Expert: Could Be Some Time Before San Diego Hep A Outbreak Peaks
Thursday, September 28, 2017
Photo by Susan Murphy
Of the 315 people who have been hospitalized in the outbreak, 115 have been treated at UC San Diego Health.
Dr. Robert Schooley, professor of medicine and infectious disease specialist at UCSD, said one characteristic of the virus is hampering efforts to control it: the incubation period is up to 50 days.
"So, if somebody came from outer space and vaccinated everyone in San Diego today, we would still be seeing new cases almost to Christmas time," Schooley explained. "So, we have to be honest on how long it takes for the interventions that have occurred to be able to show a bending of the curve.”
These interventions have included the installation of toilets and washing stations downtown and the pressure washing of streets with bleach. They have targeted the homeless, the group that has been hardest hit by the hepatitis outbreak.
Schooley said it is crucial to expand the vaccination campaign to groups that interact with the homeless, including intravenous drug users.
He said it is like a water tanker flying over a forest fire.
“When you get enough water over the system, the flames stop spreading, and that’s what the vaccination effort is about," Schooley said.
Schooley said when we see a decline in the number of new infections from one week to the next, we will know the outbreak has peaked.
We have not seen that yet.
A prominent infectious disease specialist says a particular feature of the hepatitis A virus is hampering efforts to control the outbreak.
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