County Sees Public Restrooms as Key to Preventing Hepatitis A Among Homeless

By City News Service

Prompted by an outbreak of hepatitis A concentrated among homeless individuals, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to survey homeless encampments to determine where to locate more public restrooms and hand washing facilities.

Supervisor Hilda Solis recommended the survey, calling public health safety of “paramount” importance.

“The goal is to make sure that those experiencing homelessness have a clean place to maintain good hygiene and prevent illnesses from spreading,” Solis said.

The outbreak was declared in September after two cases of hepatitis A were identified that could not be traced back to San Diego County or Santa Cruz. The contagion is worst in San Diego, where 490 cases and 18 deaths have been reported.

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver disease and the risk is particularly great among homeless individuals who are often living in unsanitary conditions, suffering from other health issues or don’t have ready access to treatment.

Between Sept. 19, when the outbreak was announced and Oct. 9, two more “community-acquired” cases have been identified, according to the Department of Public Health website. Nine of the total 12 patients were hospitalized for some period of time.

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October 12, 2017  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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