On Sept. 1, 2017, the San Diego County public health officer declared a local public health emergency due to the recent and ongoing Hepatitis A outbreak in the county. The majority of people who have contracted hepatitis A during this outbreak have been homeless and/or illicit drug users. The outbreak is being spread person-to-person and through contact with objects, food or drinks contaminated by feces or stool from an infected person. This is not a foodborne outbreak; no common sources of food, beverage or drugs have been identified to contribute to this outbreak.
As of October 10, 2017, more than 490 people have been infected and 18 have died. 17 cases have been reported in Chula Vista.
Prevent Hepatitis A and Stop its Spread
- Vaccinate (Recommended for the homeless, illicit drugs users, health care, social, and public health workers, police, fire and EMS staff, and food handlers)
- Sanitize (Important to always wash hands with soap and water after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and before preparing food or eating.)
For weekly updates on total cases, hospitalizations, deaths, additional educational resources, and the latest public communications (e.g., news stories and health alerts), please go to the County of San Diego’s Hepatitis A webpage.
What is Hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection caused by the Hepatitis A virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months and even death.
Although anyone can get Hepatitis A, some people are at greater risk, such as those who:
Who is at risk?
- May be homeless
- Dependent on alcohol or illicit intravenous or non-injection drugs
- Have close contact or caregivers of a person infected with Hepatitis A, such as health care, social, and public health workers, and Police, Fire and other EMS staff.
- Travel to or live in countries where Hepatitis A is common (e.g. Africa, Asia, South and Central America
- Have sexual contact with someone who has Hepatitis A
- Are men who have sexual encounters with other men
- Have clotting-factor disorders, such as hemophilia
How Does Hepatitis A Spread?
- An infected person does not wash his/her hands properly after going to the bathroom and then touches objects or food
- A caregiver does not properly wash his or her hands after changing diapers or cleaning up the stool of an infected person
- Touching objects or eating food that someone with Hepatitis A infection handled
- Having sex with someone who has a Hepatitis A infection
How Can You Prevent Hepatitis A?
- The best way to prevent Hepatitis A is with the safe and effective Hepatitis A vaccine.
- Get two shots of the Hepatitis A virus vaccine, six months apart.
- Important to always wash hands with soap and water after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and before preparing food or eating.
- Use your own towels, toothbrushes, and eating utensils
- Don’t share food, drinks, or smokes with other
- Don’t have sex with someone who has Hepatitis A infection
Where can I get vaccinated?
- Call your medical provider, pharmacist, or 2-1-1 to find a community clinic or public health center near you to request the Hepatitis A vaccine.