San Diego

Los Angeles Officials Fear Outbreak as Hepatitis Cases Pop Up Locally

San Diego is dealing with its own hepatitis A outbreak, and LA officials fear it could spread locally

Health officials are worried that a huge hepatitis outbreak plaguing San Diego could spread to Los Angeles County.

Health officials say LA's homeless population is at risk after more than 400 people, many of whom are transients, contracted hepatitis A in San Diego. Sixteen people have died there, but while there have been only eight cases in Los Angeles, at least two of the people with the disease moved up from San Diego to LA, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

Hepatitis A is a virus spread through fecal matter when people do not properly wash their hands. It can also spread through sexual contact and contaminate food.

"We worry that you just need one case in the setting of poor hygiene, poor sanitation and questionable practices in terms of washing hands and where they're procuring food, and now you have a large population that can get infected," said Suman Radhakrishma, a doctor at Dignity Health California Hospital.

LA County public health officials have stepped up the cleaning of Skid Row, using bleach mixture to try and prevent a local hepatitis outbreak. Outreach workers are also educating transients about how the virus is spread and encouraging them to get vaccinated at free clinics.

Signs of Hepatitis A:

Flu-like symptoms

Dark urine

Body aches

Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)

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