A third person has died as a result of the hepatitis A outbreak in San Diego County, and as of May 1 the total case count has risen to 80, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced today.
Sixty-two people have been hospitalized during the outbreak, which started in March. Many of the cases were at local detention facilities. Public health investigators are still evaluating cases; no common food, drink or drug source has been identified.
The County has been conducting vaccination clinics in the community to reach those most at risk.
“We are partnering with the community to ensure the people most at risk – particularly the homeless – have access to the hepatitis A vaccine,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “We are strongly encouraging people who are at risk to check with their health care providers and get vaccinated for hepatitis A.”
Seven cases have been reported in local detention facilities where they may have exposed others. If you were an inmate in the following facilities during the following dates, and exposed within the past two weeks, it is recommended you get the hepatitis A vaccine. If you were exposed within the past three to seven weeks, you should watch for symptoms and see your health care provider if any symptoms develop. Exposures occurred at the following facilities:
– George Bailey Detention Facility
• from March 22 to April 4 in area 2A or medical cell 103
• from April 7 to April 19 in Area 3C
• from April 11 to April 24 in Area 1A
• from April 6 to April 18 in Areas 4A, 6A, 2A
• from April 14 to April 21 in Area 1A
– San Diego Central Jail from March 22 to April 1 in Area 5A
– Vista Detention Facility from April 9 to April 17 in Areas E3, E6 or medical cell 4
The best way to prevent Hepatitis A is by getting vaccinated. Two doses of hepatitis A vaccine are routinely recommended for children and certain adults.
Hepatitis A can be spread through contaminated food or water. In addition to vaccination, it is important for everyone to wash their hands before preparing or eating food, and after using the bathroom or changing diapers. Hepatitis A can also be spread by having sexual contact or sharing drugs with someone who is infected.
Symptoms of hepatitis A include jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, and light-colored stools. Symptoms usually appear over a number of days and last less than two months. However, some people can be ill for as long as six months. Hepatitis A can sometimes cause liver failure and even death.
Individuals are recommended to check their hepatitis A vaccination status and talk to their health care providers about the risks for hepatitis A. Persons planning an international trip should check the CDC Travelers’ Health website to see if hepatitis A vaccination is recommended for the intended destinations.
Hepatitis A vaccine is available at many doctors’ offices and clinics and at some retail pharmacies. For persons without health insurance, vaccine is available at County Public Health Centers. For a list of locations, visit http://www.sdiz.org or call 2-1-1.
For general information on hepatitis A, visit the CDC Hepatitis A Questions and Answers for the Public website.