Hepatitis A Outbreak in San Diego and Los Angeles – Why is it Spreading and What Authorities are Doing to Control it?


As per latest statistics, in San Diego almost 450 people have been diagnosed with hepatitis A in the last ten months.

As such, this Hepatitis A outbreak has now become the largest outbreak of any disease in California in the last decade.

Hepatitis A Outbreak – A Considerable Rise in Cases as Compared to 2015

Declaring it a pandemic outbreak and a public health emergency, San Diego health officials have revealed that hepatitis A cases has steeply climber to 444 by September 19, which was at around 421 in the previous week.

Out of all the infected people, 16 people have so far died while 305 sick people have been hospitalized. This problem is being considered as an outbreak since if we do a comparison with 2015, there were only 22 hepatitis A cases in the city.

Moreover, an outbreak has also been reported in Los Angeles wherein there have been ten cases of hepatitis A, making it one of the most serious ones among recent illness outbreaks. Apart from that, since April, 69 cases of hepatitis A have surfaced in Santa Cruz County (Northern California).

Analysis of Reasons for the Outbreak

hepatitisaoutbreakcaliforniaUpon thorough analysis of the pandemic outbreak, experts have noticed that this outbreak is occurring mainly among homeless people or among people who take illegal drugs.

Moreover, research by CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) shows that infection tends to spread through the oral-fecal route when infected person’s stool contaminates objects, drinks and foods. When other people ingest or touch such foods or drinks then they also get infected.

Thus, infection is spreading due to the fact that after visiting bathroom people infected by hepatitis A virus are not properly washing their hands.

Reason #1: Homelessness and Lack of Hygiene

In this latest pandemic outbreak, almost 50% of the cases noticed in San Diego are among homeless people. According to studies, such people are already at high risk of getting infected by the hepatitis A virus due to the fact that they find it difficult to maintain good hygiene and have limited access to things like proper hand washing and toilets.

Likewise, in this disease outbreak some cases have been found in facilities that have shared restrooms as well as in drug treatment facilities and jails.

Reason #2: Illicit Drug Usage and Sharing of Equipment

As per Department of Health (Los Angeles County), another reason for spread of the infection, making it an outbreak is sharing of equipment by people who are addicted to illicit drugs.

Steps Taken by Authorities to Combat This Outbreak

diseaseoutbreaksandiegoFew of the important initiatives authorities have taken to control this serious outbreak include:

  • Vaccination of around 19,000 people to protect them from hepatitis A virus.

  • Authorities have also setup forty hand washing stations all around the downtown area.

  • Disinfection has been performed using bleach on city streets.

Hepatitis A Infection – Symptoms to be Wary of

The main point of this disease outbreak is that the virus is able to infect your liver as well as result in inflammation and organ damage. As such, you need to keep note of the symptoms and immediately visit a physician if any of the symptoms surface:

  • Fever

  • Dark yellow urine

  • Vomiting

  • Nausea

  • Joint pain

Since it is considered most serious among recent illness outbreaks, you need to take hepatitis A seriously since it can result in liver failure, more so in people with any type of liver disease or in older people.

As such, it is recommended that people should get the vaccination in case:

  • They are homeless

  • They have to handle food due to their profession

  • They are illicit drug users

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