Escondido, CA

County Ends Local Health Emergency Declared for Hepatitis A Outbreak

After four weeks with no new cases associated with the local hepatitis A outbreak reported, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved a motion Tuesday ending the local public health emergency.

The emergency was declared on Sept. 1 by the County public health officer to raise awareness of the outbreak.

Today’s action does not mean the outbreak is over, and local health officials will continue to work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the California Department of Public Health in continuing the efforts that were taken to control the outbreak.

“New outbreak activity has leveled off to near zero,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “The sustained vaccination, sanitation and education efforts we undertook will continue and we will remain vigilant to make sure that the outbreak activity doesn’t return.

“We want to thank our local health care community, homeless service providers, non-profit and faith-based community partners, cities and other government agencies for working with us to bring the outbreak under control.”

The County will continue hepatitis A vaccinations at public health centers, jails and detention facilities, homeless tent shelters and locations where high-risk individuals congregate. Mass vaccinations will also be held for food handlers to further protect the public.

The total number of cases in the outbreak has remained at 577 with 395 hospitalizations and 20 deaths. From May to September, 2017 there were an average of 84 cases reported each month. In December, that number dropped to eight cases. No cases with symptom-onset in 2018 have been reported.

Hepatitis A is most commonly spread from person to person through the fecal-oral route. 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.

For general information on hepatitis A, visit the HHSA hepatitis website where data are updated routinely. A hepatitis A fact sheet is also available.

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