Death toll increases to 20 in San Diego County hep A outbreak

Brian Zimmerman - Print  | 

The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency on Tuesday increased the death count associated with an ongoing outbreak of hepatitis A to 20, marking one new death from the agency's count a week prior.

Additionally, the county increased the case count related to the outbreak by 20, bringing the total number of infections to 536. The agency also increased the number of hospitalizations related to the outbreak by 12 to 369. Health 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.

Health officials on Tuesday expressed concern regarding the outbreak's potential to spread from the drug using community into the community of men who have sex with men, as has happened in previous hepatitis outbreaks in the U.S., according to The San Diego Union Tribune.

"Right now we have no evidence of crossover to this community, but it is something that we're continuing to do outreach on. It's something that we want to prevent," said Eric McDonald, MD, chief of the county's epidemiology and immunization services branch, according to the Union Tribune.

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