Hepatitis A Outbreak Reaches LA, 2 Cases Confirmed

Carla Harmon
September 19, 2017

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection caused by a virus. Initially, we were told that most of the victims are homeless drug users, but a new announcement stated that anyone who visited the World Famous Restaurant during specific dates and times may be in danger.

Ferrer urged anyone working with individuals at high risk of contracting the disease - including health care providers, food-service workers and shelter employees - to get vaccinated.

Children have been routinely vaccinated since 1999, but many adults lack protection against the virus.

"The risk to the public is low, but anyone who ate or had beverages at the restaurant on those dates and times should be aware of the signs and symptoms of hepatitis A", said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., San Diego County public health officer.

The county typically sees about 40-60 cases of hepatitis A annually from the population at large, with a concentration often found among food- service workers.

The name of the establishment that is now in question is the "World Famous Restaurant" it is located at 711 Pacific Beach Drive in San Diego. But those patients can be readily tracked and follow-up can be scheduled by phone or email, something that's not possible when patients are living on the street.

Hepatitis A is usually spread when a person ingests fecal matter - even microscopic amounts - from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by an infected person.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer, County Supervisor Ron Roberts and county health officials held a news conference for the launch of the "Vaccination, Sanitation & Education" campaign, which asks the public to protect themselves from the disease.

The virus has killed 16 people and sickened more than 400 in the County. The department of public health says it has enough vaccine to prevent an outbreak. All summer, the LA Department of Public Health has been working with the homeless community to educate and to vaccinate people against the disease. Symptoms of acute hepatitis A include fever, malaise, dark urine, anorexia, nausea and abdominal discomfort, followed by jaundice.

Hepatitis A varies in severity, with mild cases lasting two weeks or less and in more severe cases lasting four to seven weeks or longer. People are at increased risk of getting hepatitis A when they have been in close and continuous contact with an infected individual, particularly in a household.

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