LA County Officially Declares Hepatitis A Outbreak

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Outbreaks of hepatitis A disease are now ongoing in two California counties (San Diego County and Santa Cruz County) in persons who are homeless and/or using illicit drugs.

According to abc7, this declaration came after the most recent of these cases appeared in the area. Although the numbers are quite low in LA compared to San Diego, and even Santa Cruz, which has seen 69 confirmed hepatitis cases, action is being taken because two of the 10 LA cases can not be traced to either San Diego or Santa Cruz, which makes it an outbreak.

The main transmission method for hepatitis A is via feces. "Swift, comprehensive action to halt the spread of infection and care for those infected in Los Angeles must be taken immediately".

According to an official, the department has seemingly expected such an outbreak to occur for some time now. "Public Health has been proactively preparing for an outbreak for some time and is working diligently to prevent spread in local communities", said Interim Health Officer for Los Angeles County, Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, MD, MPH. "Our priorities are to keep all our residents both safe and well informed of the situation.

Vaccination is the best protection against Hepatitis A. With this in mind, our outreach teams and clinics are offering free vaccine to persons who are homeless, active drug users, and those who provide services and support to those individuals". People who are homeless are at higher risk because they face challenges to maintaining good hygiene. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. If symptoms do develop, they may include: fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, joint pain, and jaundice (a yellowing of the skin or eyes).

Get the hepatitis A vaccine. Hepatitis A can sometimes cause liver failure and death, although this is rare and occurs more commonly in persons 50 years of age or older and persons with other liver diseases, such as hepatitis B or C. The City of West Hollywood's nearest public health center is the Hollywood/Wilshire Health Center, located at 5205 Melrose Ave. in Los Angeles.

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