Twenty-nine of those patients have a history of substance abuse and 27 are homeless. Five people contracted hepatitis A after traveling outside the U.S. No common source of infection has been identified and the investigation is still ongoing.

“The County is working closely with the local health community to increase outreach to vulnerable populations to raise awareness and promote hepatitis A vaccination,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “Those at risk are urged to talk to their health care providers and get vaccinated for hepatitis A.”

Hepatitis is characterized by inflammation of the liver. Toxins, certain medications, some diseases, chronic alcoholism, and bacterial and viral infections can all lead to the virus.

There is a vaccine for hepatitis A which has been recommended as part of the routine childhood vaccination schedule. However, most adults have not been vaccinated and may be susceptible to the virus.

From 2011-2015, there were approximately 15 to 40 cases of hepatitis A annually, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

“Given the current outbreak already has 42 hepatitis A cases, we are actively working with the medical community to address this,” said Dr. Sayone Thihalolipavan, County deputy public health officer.

Risk factors for hepatitis A include living with or having sexual contact with someone who has the virus, or sharing illegal drugs with an infected person.

Hepatitis A can also be transmitted through contaminated food or water.

Source: NBC San Diego

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