A man gets a hepatitis A vaccine shot amid a deadly outbreak of the disease in San Diego. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

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County health officials are responding to a small spike in hepatitis A cases five years after an outbreak devastated San Diego’s unhoused community.

The county reports that it has recently tracked five cases, including three involving homeless residents. One unhoused person has already died. The county said that the cases for now don’t appear to be linked and that the volume of cases has yet to amount to an outbreak.

County spokesman Tim McClain said late Tuesday it was not yet clear whether the cases may be concentrated in one area of the region as county investigations are ongoing. For now, Mayor Todd Gloria’s office said, the city has only been notified of one confirmed case in the city, which was the epicenter of the 2017-2018 outbreak.

The county and the city’s Housing Commission confirmed that one person who fell ill was staying in a city-funded homeless shelter. As of Tuesday, the shelter — which officials did not identify — was continuing to accept newcomers.

The county said it is ramping up vaccinations and inoculated dozens of residents at that shelter this week. It’s now making plans to do so elsewhere throughout the region.

Gloria spokesman Dave Rolland said the county has not yet recommended additional handwashing stations or portable public restrooms, two amenities that the city and county increased access to during the 2017 outbreak which sickened nearly 600 and left 20 dead.

“The city, at this time, is focusing its attention on getting vaccinations to those in our shelters, which as county health officials have indicated, is the best way to prevent hepatitis A infection,” Rolland wrote in an email. “We are continuing to monitor the situation closely and stand ready to take the necessary steps to respond accordingly.”

McClain said the county is reviewing infectious disease plans at shelters and cities throughout the county and will follow up if “additional activities or interventions be needed.”

Lisa Halverstadt

Lisa is a senior investigative reporter who digs into some of San Diego's biggest challenges including homelessness, city real estate debacles, the region's...

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1 Comment

  1. Just another one of the joys of supporting thousands of drug addicts who choose to live in garbage forts and terrorize people. Cheers

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