San Diego

San Diego Begins Power Washing Streets to Fight Hepatitis A

Since the outbreak, 16 people have died and hundreds have been infected, making it the worst outbreak to hit San Diego in decades.

City officials have begun power washing parts of Downtown San Diego in an effort to combat the Hepatitis A outbreak. 

Since the outbreak, 16 people have died and hundreds have been infected, making it the worst outbreak to hit San Diego in decades. The County Board of Supervisors declared the outbreak a public health emergency. 

Monday, crews began spraying down East Village sidewalks with a bleach solution that kills the Hepatitis virus. 

"We're probably going to be doing them every other Monday, see how that works out at least for the time being," said Jose Ysea, a City spokesman.

The bleach solution will be used on areas predominantly occupied by homeless San Diegans, including Market and 16th Street down through Commercial. 

In addition to the power washing, city and county officials deployed 40 hand washing stations around the county. Three dozen hand washing stations have already been set up in areas where homeless people congregate.

Hepatitis A is a serious disease that attacks the liver and can prove fatal. Vaccines are available at no charge to uninsured individuals at any of the county's public health centers.

County health officers have issued new vaccine recommendations. Since March, about 19,000 people have been vaccinated. 

The county has also vaccinated more than 7,000 people at risk, which includes homeless San Diegans and those who work with the homeless.

Doctors are now recommending anyone who works or lives downtown to get vaccinated too. The county estimates 30 percent of those infected in the Hepatitis A outbreak are not homeless or drug users.

That means anyone who works or lives near the infected areas is at risk.

Laura Johnson, a small business owner downtown, just opened her business when she first learned about the outbreak. 

"I literally had no idea until yesterday which is kind of scary," she said.

Jamie Miller, another small business owner in San Diego, was shocked to first learn about the outbreak.

"It sounds like a crazy thing to have on the streets in a first world city," Miller told NBC 7.

On Tuesday, the city will extend the operating hours for 14 restrooms in Balboa Park. The restrooms will be open 24/7. 

The city is also exploring other options to increase the number of restrooms in the downtown area. 

The San Diego Central Library will host a free Hepatitis A vaccination clinic on September 19 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

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