San Diego Hepatitis A Outbreak No Longer Local Public Health Emergency

The San Diego Board of Supervisors ends the local public health emergency announced in September 2017 for the ongoing hepatitis A outbreak in San Diego.

Five US states have been struggling with hepatitis A outbreaks over the past few months, but things may be looking up—at least for San Diego.

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved a motion on Tuesday, January 23, that put an end to the local public health emergency announced back on September 1, 2017, because no new associated cases have been reported in the past 4 weeks. However, this does not mean the outbreak is over.

“New outbreak activity has leveled off to near zero,” county public health officer Wilma Wooten, MD, commented in a recent press release. “The sustained vaccination, sanitation, and education efforts we undertook will continue and we will remain vigilant to make sure that the outbreak activity doesn’t return.”

The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) has made major efforts to improve sanitation, such as installing handwashing stations in areas where high-risk individuals are known to gather, updating street sanitation protocols, and giving out personal hygiene kits. In addition to these sanitation efforts, the San Diego HHSA also launched a mass vaccination campaign when they declared a state of emergency in an effort to control the outbreak.

Hepatitis A vaccinations will continue to be administered at public health centers, jails and detention facilities, homeless tent shelters, and other locations where at-risk individuals reside, according to the press release. “Mass vaccinations will also be held for food handlers to further protect the public.”

Meanwhile, in Missouri, the Barry-Eaton District Health Department (BEDHD) announced that Eaton County is now officially part of the statewide hepatitis A outbreak going on in Michigan.

“The [BEDHD] has received laboratory confirmation that the second Eaton County case of hepatitis A reported on January 5 is linked to the statewide Southeast Michigan Hepatitis A outbreak,” according to the official press release.

Because of these findings, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will now include the county in the outbreak jurisdiction, meaning that future cases in the county will automatically be included in outbreak counts. As of January 17, 2018, 692 outbreak-associated cases have been reported in Michigan; the death toll remains at 22.

The BEDHD will work on strengthening surveillance and coordination efforts in an effort to prevent virus spread. “The health department will be increasing our community outreach and vaccination efforts, especially in high-risk groups,” Colette Scrimger, BEDHD health officer said in the press release. “Making sure that our high-risk groups get vaccinated is one of our top priorities.”

To stay up-to-date on all of the ongoing hepatitis A outbreaks in the United States, be sure to check out the Contagion ® Outbreak Monitor.