The Year in Diseases

San Diego County health officials handled several health challenges in 2008 -- a measles outbreak, a record number of West Nile Virus cases and a hepatitis A outbreak, the source of which was never confirmed.

February’s measles outbreak sickened 12 children and marked the first time in more than 15 years that the county has seen more than a few cases. A seven-year-old child returned from a visit to Europe with the measles. The parents had chosen not to vaccinate their child.

"County residents learned about the 'ripple effect' of one child not being inoculated against disease," said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County of San Diego Public Health Officer. "Hundreds of people were impacted by the outbreak simply because they were exposed to an infected child at a public event.

In April and May 2008, 22 people were sickened with Hepatitis A reportedly linked to a La Mesa Chipotle. It was the first major Hepatitis A outbreak in San Diego County in more than 10 years. HHSA's Public Health Services and the County Department of Environmental Health investigated the outbreak, but the source of infection was never confirmed.

California led the nation with over 400 cases of the mosquito-borne West Nile Virus this year, with a record 35 cases reported in San Diego County.

"No one knows exactly why we saw so many cases of West Nile virus this year," Dr. Wooten said. Although there is the theory that the number of foreclosed homes with unattended pools may have added to mosquito breeding grounds in our area.

The state now requires counties to track cases of severe staph infection, including MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus). There have been 21 cases in San Diego County since February 2008. The condition starts as a pimple or boil and can cause serious infections.

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