San Diego

Street Spraying to Combat Hepatitis A Catches Businesses by Surprise

City crews are spraying downtown sidewalks with a bleach mixture

After a Hepatitis A outbreak has killed 16 and infected hundreds, San Diego is power washing sidewalks in the downtown area.

Signs posted on street corners around Little Italy explain that city crews will spray sidewalks Wednesday morning.

But many downtown business owners were in the dark about the process late Tuesday.

NBC 7 spoke to Alejandro Buelna, manager at Enoteca Style, who said he had no idea his street was going to be sprayed.

"I did not know anything about it. You just showing me this is the first I know about it," he said.   

The city gives 24 hours notice by posting the signs, but still, many questions remain unanswered for businesses.

"It doesn't say if we should stay off or open our business. It doesn't say anything," said Buelna. 

Crews were out Monday in the East Village area, spraying sidewalks with a bleach and water mixture. The liquid, meant to sanitize the area, is collected so it doesn't go into the storm drains.

Sidewalks may be closed but businesses should stay open, according to the city.

It's all in response to a Hepatitis A outbreak. 

The virus is highly contagious and can linger on surfaces for days, which means walking on sidewalks can carry it into your home. It's spread mostly by unsanitary measures and not washing hands.

Many of those affected are homeless, but approximately 30 percent of those infected are not homeless or drug users, according to the County of San Diego.

After Wednesday's spraying is finished, crews will move to the Gaslamp Quarter on Friday.

The city will assess how well the spraying works after this week, and will most likely do another round of spraying in all three zones in two weeks.

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