San Diego County hep A outbreak up to 160 cases, 4 deaths

San Diego County health officials on Monday reported a fourth death related to an outbreak of hepatitis A that has sickened 160 people.

County health officials have been monitoring elevated hepatitis A levels in the community since November 2016. The new count marks an 80-case increase since May 1.

The majority of cases have occurred among the homeless population and illicit drug users. Health officials have not identified a common drug or food source as the catalyst for the outbreak.

"We strongly encourage people who are at risk to check with their healthcare providers and get vaccinated for hepatitis A," said Wilma Wooten, MD, a public health officer with the county. "The two best ways to prevent hepatitis A are vaccination and good hand hygiene, which means washing your hands after using a restroom and before preparing or eating meals."

Hepatitis A is highly communicable and contracted when a person comes into contact with fecal matter from an infected individual via person-to-person contact or the consumption of contaminated food or water. Symptoms of hepatitis A infection include abdominal pain, a low-grade fever, nausea, fatigue and jaundice.

To learn more about hepatitis A, click here.

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