The County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency announced today the 18th hepatitis A related death in the current local outbreak.

Hepatitis A Vaccine Image/National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Hepatitis A Vaccine
Image/National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Since the beginning of the year, 490 hepatitis A cases have been reported with 70 percent of those infected requiring hospitalization for their illness.

The majority of people who have contracted hepatitis A are homeless and/or illicit drug users, although some cases have been neither.  The outbreak is being spread person-to-person and through contact with a fecally contaminated environment.  No common sources of food, beverage or drugs have been identified that have contributed to this outbreak, though investigation is ongoing.

On September 1, 2017, the San Diego County Public Health Officer declared a local public health emergency due to the ongoing hepatitis A virus outbreak in the county. The County Board of Supervisors ratified this declaration on September 6, 2017 and again on September 12, 2017. The declaration shall be ratified every two weeks by the County Board of Supervisors until the declaration is rescinded.

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On Monday, more than 65 homeless individuals had moved into a Transitional Camp Area opened by the City of San Diego and operated by nonprofit Alpha Project. The camp area will provide a clean and sanitary place to stay while ongoing efforts to address the hepatitis A outbreak and construction of three temporary bridge shelters continue.

Last week Mayor Faulconer announced the parking lot at a City-owned operations yard at 20th and B streets be converted into a Transitional Camp Area where homeless individuals will be allowed to pitch a tent as well as have access to bathrooms, showers, handwashing stations, storage for belongings and meals. Upon their arrival this morning, occupants were welcomed with snacks, the opportunity to get a hepatitis A vaccination, and were given a new tent.