City intensifies efforts to stop the spread of Hepatitis A

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — The number of Hepatitis A cases in San Diego is rising rapidly. At last count, county health officials said there are 444 cases of infection. Sixteen people have died since last November.

Following a memo from the County Health and Human Services Department on August 31, the City of San Diego has instituted a number of emergency measures to stop the spread of the highly contagious virus.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer is holding daily briefings in his office, twice a day, gathering department heads, the police and fire chiefs as well as the local head of the Department of Homeland Security.

”Many of the people in the room are the same team that got us through the wildfires,” Faulconer said.

The mayor said they share ”that type of mentality of ‘all hands on deck’, let’s make a difference, let’s get out there and get the help to those individuals who need it.”

Some of the measures adopted by the city include an intensive sanitation campaign, to clean human waste from public right-of-ways. The virus is spread through contact with the feces of an infected person.

At the insistence of the county, the city has also made more hand-washing and public toilets available, opening up most city-owned bathrooms for use 24 hours a day and putting up more portable toilets.

The city is also pressing ahead to get more people vaccinated, sending police officers out with public health employees to make contact with people who are at greatest risk of infection, those who live on the streets or use illicit drugs.

Not far from City Hall, Joe Rodriguez who is living at the San Diego Rescue Mission said he had received a vaccine earlier this year.

When we asked him what he thought of the city’s attempts to stop the epidemic, he said, "I pray to God that it does, that it works, but I think they waited way too long, way too long.”

More than half of the cases reported have occurred inside the City of San Diego.

There have been 223 cases in San Diego, 37 cases in El Cajon, 17 cases in Chula Vista, 11 in Escondido and 7 in Oceanside. Catie, who works as a server at an Ocean Beach restaurant was one of more than 100 people who came to a Chula Vista library on Friday to receive a free immunization.  

She said the beach community where she works has a lot of people who are vulnerable to infection.

“With the hepatitis A outbreak, I just thought it was kind of a good pro-active thing to do,” she said.

To find out where you can receive a Hepatitis A vaccination, you can call the County’s 2-11 hotline. 

Categories: Hepatitis A, Local San Diego News