San Diego County officials end emergency status for hep A outbreak: 5 things to know

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted to end the state-of-emergency declaration for the county's largest outbreak of hepatitis A in 20 years, according to a report from The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Here are five things to know.

1. The board's decision, which follows a week of no new hepatitis A cases, scales back comprehensive public health efforts initiated to control the outbreak, which has had an outsized effect on the county's homeless population.

2. Under the emergency declaration, the county government spent about $10 million to vaccinate nearly 120,000 people, as well as install 160 hand-washing stations and 13 portable toilets in areas where the homeless tend to gather. A San Diego city official told the Union-Tribune the city will continue to operate 10 portable restrooms and on-site hand-washing stations.

3. Some officials believe poor sanitation, stemming from a dearth of public restrooms for the county's homeless population, likely contributed to the outbreak.

4. Lori Saldaña, a former member of California's state assembly who is running for a seat on the county board, said the county needs to improve its efforts to help homeless residents recover after being hospitalized for hepatitis.

"If you are sending sick, homeless, unsheltered people back to the streets after hepatitis, that's why our mortality rates were twice the national average," said Ms. Saldaña, according to the Union-Tribune. "That's why this county needs to commit to recuperative care facilities for the thousands who lack shelter."

5. As of Jan. 17, the outbreak has resulted in 577 infections, 395 hospitalizations and 20 deaths.

To learn more about hepatitis A, click here.

More articles on infection control: 
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