San Diego Hepatitis Outbreak Grows, With 421 Illnesses and 16 Deaths Reported

Enlarge  A little rinse won't do. Getty | Bloomberg

Enlarge A little rinse won't do. Getty | Bloomberg

New numbers came one day after a city of San Diego contractor began a new sidewalk and street cleaning campaign that has workers using high-pressure sprayers to scour sidewalks with bleach-infused water capable of killing the hepatitis A virus.

The city responded to a letter sent by San Diego County Thursday, asking the city to move forward with a list of specific sanitation actions created to help control the spread of the disease, which has killed 15 people and hospitalized almost 300, many of them homeless and living on streets without adequate access to restrooms or showers.

According to the San Diego Health & Human Services Agency (HHSA), as of September 5, 2017, the current outbreak has infected 398 people and caused 279 hospitalizations. Since last November, there have been 16 reported deaths. In total, the city has provided vaccinations to approximately 19,000 people. "Offering more clean and safe spaces that transition the homeless from living on the streets to living in a permanent home is exactly what San Diego needs right now".

The industrial tents will include beds, showers, restrooms and hand-washing stations.

In December, an annual survey by the Downtown San Diego Partnership stated there was an average of 1,073 homeless people present in each neighborhood of downtown San Diego per a month in 2016, compared to an average of 582 homeless people for the year of 2012. Meanwhile, San Diego County requested that city move forward with a list of specific sanitation actions created to help control the spread of the disease.

Faulconer is scheduled to be joined by other city and civic leaders at an 8 a.m. news conference near Father Joe's Villages on 14th Street to address the effort to reduce the number of homeless living on the city's streets. That effort has lagged because of a lack of affordable housing and various individuals and groups have urged the city to again provide more temporary shelter until the "housing first" model picks up steam.

In addition, 40 hand-washing stations were installed in areas where the city's homeless gather, according to local news reports.

Hundreds of people have reportedly been affected by hepatitis A, which attacks the liver. However, the region's public health officer, Dr. Wilma Wooten, was reported as stating that other cities will start implanting sanitation programs as well. "In an occupation such as handling food, workers may expose more members of the public than workers in other occupations".

This is critical, as our downtown area is famed for some awesome restaurants.

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