Another person has died from a Hepatitis A outbreak, bringing the total death count to three in San Diego, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) announced Friday.
There have been 80 confirmed cases of Hepatitis A as of May 1--66 people have been hospitalized during the outbreak, according to HHSA.
Public health investigators continue to look for the cause. So far, they said there has not been a food, drink or drug source that accounts for the cases.
The county has been conducting vaccination clinics in the community.
“We are partnering with the community to ensure the people most at risk – particularly the homeless – have access to the hepatitis A vaccine,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., a county public health officer.
HHSA recommends anyone who works with the homeless on a regular basis, or those who volunteer with illicit drug users be tested for Hepatitis A.
The agency said seven cases of Hepatitis A have also been reported in local detention facilities.
Anyone who was an inmate from March through April in the George Bailey Detention Facility, San Diego Central Jail, or Vista Detention Facility is encouraged to be tested.
The best way to prevent Hepatitis A is by getting vaccinated, the agency said. The Hepatitis A vaccine became available in 1995 and is recommended as part of the routine childhood vaccination schedule. However, many adults have not been vaccinated and may be susceptible to the Hepatitis A virus.
Anyone traveling to a country that has high rates of Hepatitis A (which includes countries parts of Africa and Asia, and moderate risk areas include Central and South America, Eastern Europe, and parts of Asia) should also be vaccinated.
Hepatitis A can also be spread through contaminated food or water. Along with a vaccination, it is important for everyone to wash their hands before preparing or eating food, and after using the bathroom or changing diapers.
Hepatitis A can also be spread by having sexual contact or sharing drugs with someone who is infected.
Symptoms of Hepatitis A include: jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, and light-colored stools.
Symptoms usually appear over a number of days and last less than two months. However, some people can be ill for as long as six months.
Hepatitis A can sometimes cause liver failure and even death.