Hepatitis A outbreak in San Diego sparks fears of same in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- So far, only five cases of hepatitis A have been reported by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, but county officials are very concerned.

Those five cases originated in San Diego, where there is now a widespread outbreak of hepatitis A.

More than 400 cases have been reported since last November. Most of those cases have been among homeless men. Sixteen people have died.

All summer, the LA Department of Public Health has been working with the homeless community to educate and to vaccinate people against the disease.

San Diego has tried to control the outbreak with street cleaning and providing more portable toilets in the infected areas. In Los Angeles County, public health has worked with agencies like the Midnight Mission.

"We had a vaccination clinic where we gave out 70 vaccinations to our workers who are interacting with the homeless community," said Georgia Berkovich of Midnight Mission.

"We serve nearly a million meals a year here so we are a point of contact for a lot of people in our community."

Hepatitis A is a liver disease that can be transmitted through eating bad or contaminated food. It can also be transmitted by being in contact with someone who is infected.

The department of public health says it has enough vaccine to prevent an outbreak. The vaccinations at Los Angeles County Department of Public Health clinics are free.
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