Health Care

California declares state of emergency over Hepatitis A outbreak

Gov. Jerry Brown Friday declared a state of emergency to enable the state to increase the supply of hepatitis A vaccine to fight the current outbreak afflicting San Diego.

While immunizations from the federal vaccine program have been distributed to at-risk populations in affected areas in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Santa Cruz counties, Brown's proclamation allows the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to immediately purchase and distribute vaccines to affected communities.

The majority of patients are homelessness or using illicit drugs, according to the state Department of Health.

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"While San Diego is experiencing the overwhelming majority of current hepatitis A cases, the entire state of California is at risk". The outbreak was first identified in March, and officials declared a public health emergency in the area in early September.

In Santa Cruz County, at least 69 people have been diagnosed with hepatitis A amid a smaller outbreak that broke out in April, according to the San Diego Union Tribune. According to the CDPH, the hepatitis A virus is spread when the virus is ingested by mouth from contact with hands, objects, food or drinks that are contaminated by the feces of an infected person Hepatitis A infection typically causes fever, a general ill feeling, yellowness of the skin, lack of appetite and nausea. California's outbreak, however, has largely been spread person-to-person, primarily within the state's homeless population. CDPH is working with impacted counties to monitor the outbreak and implement vaccination efforts and is also providing guidance on improving sanitation, including access to handwashing facilities and toilets, to lessen the spread of the virus.

Hepatitis A is commonly transmitted through contaminated food.



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