Hepatitis A San Diego outbreak causes health emergency

San Diego has declared a public health emergency to control a wildly spreading outbreak of the liver disease hepatitis A that has killed 15 people.

Infections have hospitalized nearly 400 more with the homeless population hit the hardest since the outbreak started last November.

Officials have attempted to use a combination of education and vaccination methods to prevent the spread of this virus, but the outbreak has only grown.

Hepatitis A can spread through ingesting food and drinks that have come in contact with feces from people who are already infected.

Officials are now moving fast to install hand-washing stations in areas more populated by homeless people to contain the spread of the deadly virus.  

The hepatitis A outbreak in San Diego County has killed 15 people and hospitalized close to 400. Workers such as Edwin Gonzalez (pictured) from United Site Services delivered hand-washing stations to areas around the county to promote people washing their hands 

The hepatitis A outbreak in San Diego County has killed 15 people and hospitalized close to 400. Workers such as Edwin Gonzalez (pictured) from United Site Services delivered hand-washing stations to areas around the county to promote people washing their hands 

Friday's emergency declaration will help San Diego County get state assistance and legal protection over its new sanitation measures.

Some of the sanitation measures San Diego County has implemented to stop the hepatitis A outbreak include 40 portable hand-washing stations in areas with large homeless populations. 

Hepatitis A is a virus that lives in human feces and spreads if people who use the bathroom don't properly clean their hands.  

If people then ingest food or drinks containing the virus, they are at risk of getting infected.  

What is hepatitis A and how can it be treated? 

Hepatitis A is a viral liver disease that can have both minor and severe symptoms for the person infected. 

It is primarily spread when a person who isn't vaccinated ingests food or water that has been contaminated with feces of an infected individual.

The virus is one of the most frequent causes for foodborne infections.

Symptoms

The incubation period of hepatitis A is normally 14 to 28 days. 

People can experience:

Fever Loss of appetite  Diarrhea  Nausea  Dark-colored urine Jaundice  Acute liver failure 

Who is at risk?

Anyone who has not been vaccinated or has never been infected with the hepatitis A virus is at risk. 

Other factors that increase risk include:

Poor sanitation Lack of clean water Recreational drug use Living with an infected person or having sexual relations with one Traveling to areas with high risk without a vaccination

Treatment 

There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A. 

It may take some people a

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