Health officials say Los Angeles hepatitis A cases tied to San Diego outbreak

Posted at 5:22 PM, Sep 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-18 20:34:42-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Los Angeles County health officials are scrambling to prevent the spread of hepatitis A after three people became infected with the potentially deadly virus while in San Diego two months ago.

In a motion filed by Los Angeles County's Fifth District Supervisor Kathryn Barger, she is asking the Dept. of Public Health to provide a report within 14 days on current efforts to stop an outbreak and a plan for response should one occur.

"At this time Public Health does not consider there to be a hepatitis A outbreak in Los Angeles County, however it is important that the County proactively educate the community on ways to prevent hepatitis A infection, and have a response plan in the event that the County does see an increase in hepatitis A cases," Barger said in her prevention plan.

Citing public health officials, Barger says that the three people who acquired the infection had been in San Diego in mid-July.

READ: Most hand sanitizers will not kill Hepatitis A

San Diego County health officials are in the midst of an hepatitis A epidemic with the first cases reported early this year. The virus is known to have sickened at least 421 people and killed 16 in San Diego County.

The outbreak started with the homeless and drug using population, according to health officials.

Now it has spread to the general population, with nearly 50 documented cases of people becoming sick, who have no ties to homeless or drug users, said the San Diego County Public Health Department.

READ: City opens bathrooms for homeless during hep A crisis

Crews are power-washing sidewalks with a bleach solution in East Village downtown.

Last week, San Diego county health officials warned customers of a Pacific Beach restaurant that they may have been exposed to a person with hepatitis A on several specific dates and times.

San Diego County health officials confirmed the patient worked at World Famous Restaurant while infected. 

READ: Statement from World Famous Restaurant

Hepatitis A varies in severity, with mild cases lasting two weeks or less and in more severe cases lasting four to seven weeks or longer. Some individuals, especially children, may not develop jaundice or any symptom at all. However, even mildly ill people can still be highly infectious and should consult a physician, according to County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten.

Someone with hepatitis can be contagious to others before they develop symptoms, according to the HHSA.

READ: How can you tell if you have hepatitis A?