(KGTV) - Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency Friday over an outbreak of Hepatitis A in California, largely rooted in San Diego County.
The declaration is meant to help control the outbreak and increase the supply of vaccines for the disease, and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to immediately purchase additional vaccines from manufacturers and begin coordinating distribution.
San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob issued a statement about the governor's declaration.
“This is welcome news and allows us to broaden our efforts to attack Hep A here at home. The county has been working closely with state public health officials since the early stages of the outbreak. The governor’s emergency proclamation helps take us to the next level by ensuring an on-going coordinated response and continued access to the vaccine. It allows the county to stay focused on what matters most as we work with others to address this crisis -- vaccination, sanitation and education.”
"Vaccinating people at risk of exposure is the most effective tool we have to prevent the spread of hepatitis An infection during an outbreak,” CDPH Director Karen Smith said.
The CDPH has already distributed nearly 80,000 doses of the vaccine through a federal program, though those supplies have not been enough to control the outbreak, according to the CDPH.
CDPH said the vaccine for adults differs from the one for children, of which there is ample supply.
"Local public health officials are working hard to offer vaccines to people who are at the most at risk of infection, including homeless Californians," Smith said. "Today’s order will help ensure communities can continue to deliver the vaccines where they are needed most."
Congressman Darrell Issa Friday sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calling for increased federal aid and expertise, including pathologists, epidemiologists, physicians, and other experts, to control the virus's spread in San Diego County and throughout the state.
"While San Diego is experiencing the overwhelming majority of current hepatitis A cases, the entire state of California is at risk. A number of counties are already seeing signs of the disease spreading in their communities," Issa's letter read. "We cannot wait until more communities are infected and impacted before taking action."
In San Diego, the Hepatitis A outbreak has killed 18 and hospitalized 342. There have been 490 reported cases of the virus in the county.
The San Diego Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to extend the county's emergency health declaration over the outbreak, which will need to be reviewed and voted on every 14 days.