Hepatitis A outbreak that killed 20 in San Diego is over, public health official says

San Diego's two-year hepatitis A outbreak, which killed 20 and sickened nearly 600, is over, The San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

It has been 100 days since the most recent case, meaning enough time has passed to formally declare an end to the outbreak, said Wilma Wooten, MD, San Diego county's public health officer.

The health department detected the outbreak in late February 2017, and infectious disease specialists tracked the first likely case to November 2016.

By late spring of 2017, there were hundreds of cases, 12 deaths and outcry from San Diego residents, who urged health officials to improve unsanitary living conditions among the region's homeless population.

To fight the outbreak, city and county government officials collaborated in September to promote vaccination and sanitation by starting street-washing campaigns, installing portable toilets and hand-washing stations and putting up temporary shelters that can house 700 people.

"What it shows is that this is not something you can just assume you're going to deal with by vaccination alone. It takes looking at the sanitary conditions, the opportunities for housing and it takes listening to the people who really live in that environment," said Jonathan Fielding, MD, distinguished professor of the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health in Los Angeles. "My hope is that the elected officials in San Diego, and in many places, won't forget that. The need for resources and cleanliness does not end just because the hepatitis A outbreak is over."

More articles on clinical leadership and infection control:
Hospital patients 16% less likely to have HAI in 2015 than 2011
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UN calls for end to violence in Congo's outbreak zone

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