9 new cases added in San Diego hep A outbreak — viral spread appears to be slowing

Brian Zimmerman - Print  | 

The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency on Tuesday increased the case count in the county's ongoing hepatitis A outbreak to 516, marking a nine-case uptick from the week prior.

Additionally, the county increased the hospitalizations related to the outbreak by six, bringing the total to 357. The outbreak's death toll remained at 19. Health department officials have been investigating the outbreak, which has primarily affected the county's homeless and illicit drug user populations, since early 2017. County health officials declared the outbreak a public health emergency Sept. 1.

All the newly confirmed cases had been previously reported to the health department before Oct. 8 and were confirmed after blood test results came back positive. The health department received no reports of new cases for investigation between Oct. 8 and Oct. 19, which may suggest the outbreak could be waning, according to a report from The San Diego Union-Tribune.

"It's always hopeful, but we know that hepatitis A has up to a 50-day incubation period, so we can expect that there could still be more new cases coming," said Wilma Wooten, MD, San Diego County's public health officer and director of public health services, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune. "If we go two incubation periods without any new cases, then we can declare the outbreak over. That’s the CDC standard that we will follow."

Symptoms of hepatitis A infection include abdominal pain, low-grade fever, nausea, fatigue and jaundice. The virus is highly transmissible and most often spread via contact with fecal matter from an infected individual.

To learn more about hepatitis A, click here.

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