Non-Profit Stops Trash Clean-Ups Along San Diego River After Hep. A Outbreak

So far this year, volunteers have helped clean up 220,000 pounds of trash

A non-profit organization focused on keeping trash out of the San Diego River has stopped clean-up efforts because of the risk of Hepatitis A.

"It's a huge problem. We have areas that we're not able to get to, the trash can build up very quickly," said Sarah Hutmacher with San Diego River Park Foundation an organization passionate about keeping the river and areas surrounding it, clean and healthy. 

So far this year, volunteers have helped clean up 220,000 pounds of trash. Ninety percent of that is caused by the homeless population, according to the organization.

The homeless population is a group that’s at high risk for the Hepatitis A virus, which has killed 17 people and sickened hundreds more.

A few ways people can contract Hepatitis A is through needles and human feces.

The outbreak has become so bad, the organization is now canceling big clean-ups for at least the rest of the year.

"When there's this much of a risk, that's not a positive first experience for us," said Hutmacher.

Those who enjoy the river said they are fearful the beloved waterway is now in jeopardy.

"It's a nice place to walk your family, you don't want to see it covered in trash, but definitely understand the concern for Hepatitis A and wanting to protect the people of the community," said Mission Valley resident Jessica Belser.

All the employees with San Diego River Park Foundation and volunteers who help pick up trash around the river on a regular basis are highly advised by the organization to get the Hepatitis A vaccine.

If they don't, they have to sign a waiver saying they are aware of the risks.

For more information on San Diego River Park Foundation, click here.

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