Hepatitis A emergency officially ends in San Diego County

Posted at 11:54 AM, Jan 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-23 21:15:06-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - The hepatitis A public health emergency in San Diego County ended Tuesday after a month with no new cases reported.

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved a motion to end the emergency situation, which started Sept. 1.

There have been 577 confirmed cases, 20 deaths, and 395 hospitalizations, county officials said. From May to September, 2017 there was an average of 84 cases reported each month. In December, that number dropped to eight cases. 

“New outbreak activity has leveled off to near zero,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “The sustained vaccination, sanitation and education efforts we undertook will continue and we will remain vigilant to make sure that the outbreak activity doesn’t return.”

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

Despite the change in emergency status, the hepatitis A outbreak is ongoing. San Diego County health officials will continue to work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the California Department of Public Health to stop more cases.

Once the County goes 100 days without a case they can declare the outbreak over.

The County will continue hepatitis A vaccinations at public health centers, jails and detention facilities, and homeless tent shelters. Mass vaccinations will also be held for food handlers.

"Vaccination, vaccination, vaccination. That's the first important strategy and then also the sanitation," said Dr. Wooten.

The city will continue sanitation efforts, including washing the streets and providing clean places for people to use the restroom and wash their hands.

The health department is proactively reaching out to other high-risk groups, holding presentations with the LGBTQ community and stressing the importance of vaccinations.