San Diego to begin spraying down streets to control hepatitis A outbreak

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The city of San Diego will begin washing down streets and sidewalks next week in an effort to control an outbreak of hepatitis A that has killed at least 15 people and sickened around 400.

Disinfecting streets in affected areas is one of the measures demanded by county health officials in a letter to the city last week. The other primary step, setting up dozens of hand-washing stations, has already been carried out.

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Officials with the office of Mayor Kevin Faulconer told City News Service they were finalizing a contract for the service. Spraying could begin as soon as Monday, but an exact schedule hasn't been determined, they said.

The county, meanwhile, has been providing vaccinations to thousands of San Diegans, with 7,300 given to people considered to be at-risk of contracting the disease, which attacks the liver. Around 19,000 have been given out total.

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Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county public health officer, said about two- thirds of the victims are homeless and/or users of illicit drugs. The hand- washing stations have been set up in areas where that population is prevalent, including downtown, Balboa Park and near the San Diego River.

She said she expects the number of victims to increase because hepatitis A has a long incubation period. The toll of fatalities is of confirmed cases - - an additional death is suspected of being from the disease but has not been confirmed by laboratory testing.

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