Hepatitis A outbreak spurs vaccination effort by health officials, homeless advocates in Venice

VENICE, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Amid growing fears over an outbreak of hepatitis A in Los Angeles County, which has put homeless people especially at risk, health officials and community advocates on Friday discussed ongoing prevention efforts at an event in Venice.

"If you just get one dose of hepatitis A vaccine, that's probably going to confer about 90 percent protective immunity," said Dr. Tyler Evans of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

Earlier last week, the director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health appeared before the Board of Supervisors and outlined the agency's plan to educate and vaccinate.

County health officials want to avoid an outbreak similar to the recent one in San Diego County, where 16 people have died and more than 400 cases of hepatitis A have been reported.

In L.A. County 10 cases of the disease have been confirmed, five of which were connected to the outbreak in San Diego and 69 reported cases in Santa Cruz.

Along with more vaccinations, more public bathrooms are needed in Venice, homeless advocates said. Fecal matter is among the ways that hepatitis A can be transmitted.

"There should be access to a restroom 24 hours a day - for everyone," said Rebecca Cooley, who is homeless. "How to work that out? I don't know. Porta-Pottis would be the immediate solution."

Hepatitis A vaccinations are available for free at Department of Public Health clinics. For more information, visit the agency's website: publichealth.lacounty.gov.
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