NewsDesk @bactiman63

San Diego County officials reports on a rise in hepatitis A this year with 28 reported so far this year and 18 of them among homeless people.

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Officials say they typically see about two cases of the virus each month with only one case reported in the homeless population last year.

While no single outbreak location has been identified, and no specific food or water source found, cases are running above baseline and the County is actively taking and expanding steps to prevent further spread of the disease. This current increase in hep A cases is a form of person-to-person transmission and not by food.

Public Health Services began a coordinated vaccination and education plan with local cities and organizations in early February after reaching three cases and one death in the homeless population. Since that time, more than 4,500 vaccinations have since been administered to those considered most at-risk from the disease as these efforts continue.

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“We’re expanding ongoing efforts to reach the homeless community because this is a setting where cases could spread more quickly,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “We need all of our partners, from shelter operators, cities and the healthcare systems, to join us in this response.”

Homeless individuals are more vulnerable to getting sick from the virus because of its ability to spread in areas without convenient access to bathrooms and handwashing.