San Diego is experiencing a Hepatitis A outbreak. Here’s what you need to know about the disease. It can be prevented with a safe and effective vaccine.
What is the source of the outbreak?
Since early 2017, the Public Health Services Division, in the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency, has been investigating a local Hepatitis A outbreak. The outbreak investigation is ongoing. It has been challenging because of the long incubation period of the disease (15 to 50 days) and the difficulty experienced to contact many individuals sickened with the illness who are homeless and/or illicit drug users. To date, no common source of food, beverage, or other cause has been identified; as a result, the source of the outbreak remains undetermined.
How many people have been affected?
So far, there have been 312 people affected by the local outbreak. Unfortunately, 10 people have died and 215 people have been hospitalized.
What is Hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is a liver infection caused by the Hepatitis A virus, which is highly contagious. It can cause liver disease, lasting a few weeks to a serious illness lasting months. In some cases, people can die.
How Is It Transmitted?
Hepatitis A virus is usually transmitted by:
- Touching objects or eating food that someone with Hepatitis A infection handled.
- Having sex with someone who has a Hepatitis A infection.
Take CDC’s Hepatitis Risk Assessment and get a personalized report in 5 minutes.
What Are the Symptoms?
Hepatitis A does not always cause symptoms. Some people get Hepatitis A and have no symptoms of the diseases. Adults are more likely to have symptoms than children.
Symptoms include fever, fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, yellowing of the eyes (jaundice), stomach pain, vomiting, dark urine, pale stools, and diarrhea.
How Can Hepatitis A Be Prevented?
- Get two shots of the Hepatitis A vaccine six months apart. The vaccine may be given as a twin vaccine against both Hepatitis A and B.
- Don’t have sex with someone who has Hepatitis A infection.
- Use your own towels, toothbrushes, and eating utensils.
- Don’t share food, drinks, or smokes with other people.
Who Should Get the Hepatitis A Vaccine?
- Individuals who are homeless.
- Individuals who work with homeless and/or users of illegal drugs.
- Travelers to countries with high or medium rates of Hepatitis A virus.
- Men who have sex with men.
- Users of injection and non-injection illegal drugs.
- Individuals with chronic liver disease, such as cirrhosis, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C.
- Anyone who is concerned about Hepatitis A virus exposure and wants to be immune.
- Persons with clotting factor disorders.
Note: individuals with chronic liver disease (i.e., cirrhosis and hepatitis C) may not be at increased risk of getting HAV infections but are at increased risk of having poor outcomes if they are infected with HAV.
We have the Hepatitis A vaccine in stock and can provide it for you without a prescription. Our pharmacist will write the prescription and administer the vaccine in one quick visit. Book your appointment today!
Here’s a video about the local outbreak: