The Los Angeles Department of Public Health (Public Health) declared a local outbreak of hepatitis A (HAV) on September 19.
Ten cases of this type of the virus, which causes acute liver disease, have been confirmed. The ten cases are associated with homeless populations, active drug users, and those that provide services and support to those individuals.
Hepatitis A is very contagious.
It can spread when a person does not properly wash their hands after going to the bathroom or changing diapers, or comes into contact with an infected person’s feces. It can also spread due to certain sexual practices, sharing equipment related to illicit drug use, and consumption of food or water contaminated with the virus.
To help prevent the spread of this virus, Public Health recommends that individuals get vaccinated for hepatitis A; don’t have sex with someone who has the virus; use their own towels, toothbrushes and eating utensils; don’t share food, drinks, or smokes with other people; and wash hands with soap and water after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and before preparing, serving or eating food.
Public Health provides hepatitis A vaccines to persons without access to hepatitis A vaccines through a health care provider. The Glendale Public Health Center, a Los Angeles County-operated facility, is located at 501 N. Glendale Ave. and can be reached at (818) 500-5762.
Public Health has also advised Los Angeles County cities to take steps to prevent the spread of infection and control the outbreak in the form of safe sanitation, sufficient public access to restrooms and hand washing facilities for all its residents, and outreach to homeless individuals.
Over 400 cases have been confirmed in San Diego County and over 50 cases in Santa Cruz County – areas where five of 10 infected L.A. County residents had recently travelled. Another three of the cases occurred in an institution following contact with a case. Two are believed to have occurred locally.
For referrals to providers offering vaccines at no-cost or reduced cost, L.A. County residents may call 2-1-1.