Skip to main content

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Vaccines | Racial Injustice

State Committee Approves Audit Of San Diego Hepatitis A Outbreak Response

City workers wash down streets and sidewalks in an effort to control Hepatiti...

Photo by Susan Murphy

Above: City workers wash down streets and sidewalks in an effort to control Hepatitis A outbreak in San Diego, Sept. 11, 2017.

The Joint Legislative Audit Committee Wednesday approved a request by Assemblyman Todd Gloria for a state audit of the response by the city of San Diego and San Diego County to the hepatitis A outbreak that killed 20 people and infected almost 600 last year.

"This is welcome news that the state auditor will officially and independently evaluate San Diego's response to the hepatitis A outbreak," said Gloria, D-San Diego. "My hope is this audit will help us learn what went wrong, what went right and how we, as a region, can improve for any future public health emergencies.

RELATED: San Diego County Issues Report On Hepatitis A Outbreak

"We owe it to those who got sick and those who died to ask the tough questions about this tragedy," he said. "This is a matter of protecting San Diegans and the quality of life we all cherish."

Gloria is asking for the audit committee to determine whether the local outbreak response properly "identified, contained and treated" the public health threat "in accordance with statutory requirements and recommended procedures." The audit is estimated to take five months.

The outbreak centered on the city's growing homeless population and is believed to have spread because of lack of access to basic sanitation.

City and county officials were criticized for not responding quickly enough to the outbreak, and for not sufficiently addressing ahead of the outbreak a homelessness crisis that was years in the making.

The county last week released its own report on the local response to the outbreak, concluding that communication among jurisdictions, agencies and community partners during public health crises needs improvement. The county analysis also recommended the creation of a county and regionwide formal incident management structure that regularly meets.

RELATED: San Diego's Flu Season Still Going Strong; Hepatitis A Outbreak Not Over

County epidemiologists first reported increased hepatitis A cases in March 2017, at which point nurses began regularly administering vaccines.

The county declared a state of emergency Sept. 1 as the disease continued to spread. Linked cases in Los Angeles and Santa Cruz counties led to a statewide emergency declaration last October.

The San Diego County declaration was terminated Jan. 23 when the number of cases ramped down following the installation of public toilets and sinks.


San Diego News Now podcast branding

San Diego news; when you want it, where you want it. Get local stories on politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings. Hosted by Anica Colbert and produced by KPBS, San Diego and the Imperial County's NPR and PBS station.

  • Need help keeping up with the news that matters most? Get the day's top news — ranging from local to international — straight to your inbox each weekday morning.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Curious San Diego banner

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.