The California hepatitis A outbreak is on the verge of reaching statewide epidemic status, as cases have spread through homeless tent cities from San Diego north to Sacramento.
California health officials have reported that at least 569 people have been infected with the hepatitis A liver disease and 17 have died since a San Diego County outbreak was first identified in November. Cases have migrated north to homeless populations in Los Angeles, Santa Cruz, San Francisco and Sacramento over the last 11 months.
Although local and state authorities have tried to underplay the risks and severity of the outbreak, the most recent annual totals for cases of hepatitis A in the United States was 1,390 in 2015, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). California only reported 179 cases during the same year.
The highly-contagious hepatitis A outbreak may have taken root because of the City of San Diego’s efforts in the run-up to Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game held at Petco Park in July 2016 to push the homeless, and the rampant drug and prostitution trade among them, out of the downtown tourist venues. Those effort included locking public bathrooms and essentially relocating the homeless to the congested tent city encampments that stretch for blocks east of downtown near freeway onramps.