Fight Against Hepatitis A Outbreak Increases

The fight against an outbreak of hepatitis A is beginning to increase outside San Diego.

From Oceanside to Chula Vista cities and towns are holding vaccinations clinics and working with mobile vaccine teams as they try to spread the word about washing hands, which is the key activity in stopping the spread of the virus that has been the cause of 16 deaths and over 440 cases across the region since last November.

San Diego is ahead of the game when it comes to sanitation. Crews began installing 40 stations for hand-washing in areas that have a large concentration of homeless at the beginning of September. Three weeks later, similar equipment has not been put in place in the smaller neighboring cities.

However, one doctor said that all should change soon. The public health officer for the county Dr. Wilma Wooten said a contractor had been hired and would add an additional 20 stations at different locations in San Diego by Friday September 22 prior to installing others in neighboring areas Monday.

Wooten added that there are 55 more to be installed over and above what already have been installed in San Diego.

Wooten said that it has taken more time than originally thought to have the stations installed due to the municipalities determining where the stations were to be installed.

El Cajon, which as of September 11 had 37 cases of the virus, has the largest concentration of illness that is related to outbreak outside San Diego.

The mayor of El Cajon Bill Wells said pressure washing some of the city streets with bleached water started on Thursday and vaccination units have been operating longer hours.

He added that he was not upset with the county just now delivering the hand-washing stations. He said El Cajon has 38 sinks in areas like Wells Park and the city’s county library where the homeless congregate.

Chula Vista in a brief statement on Thursday said that it now has 17 cases of hepatitis A and expects it will have hand washing stations next week installed in 13 locations including five parks.

Oceanside, which now has seven hepatitis A cases amongst its population of homeless, is waiting for its handwashing stations as are Escondido and National City.

Wooten added that the county has yet to hold placement talks with La Mesa and Santee, which have had six or more cases of hepatitis each, but specific counts of hepatitis A cases were not released by the two cities on Thursday.

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