Health officials in San Diego have scrambled for months to contain an outbreak of hepatitis A — vaccinating more than 19,000 people, putting up posters at bus stations and distributing hand sanitizer and cleansing wipes, reports the Los Angeles Times latimes.com.
Despite those efforts, 16 people have died of the highly contagious virus in San Diego County and hundreds have become ill in what officials say is the nation’s second-largest outbreak of hepatitis A in decades.
Earlier this month, San Diego officials declared a public health emergency.
Though Los Angeles has so far escaped an outbreak, public health officials are hoping to head off a similar emergency. They say the virus could easily spread to Los Angeles because of its proximity to San Diego and the region’s large homeless population.
Typically only children and people at high risk are vaccinated for hepatitis A. While people with HIV are not at greater risk of becoming infected with hepatitis A than anyone else – some studies suggest that people with HIV are more likely to experience prolonged symptoms of hepatitis A, meaning that it might take longer for someone who is HIV-positive to recover fully from hepatitis A.
Los Angeles County offers free Hepatitis A & B vaccines for high risk groups. For more info visit: http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/acd/Diseases/HepA.htm