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Hepatitis A cases seeing increase in Santa Cruz County

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - UPDATE: 09/05/2017 6:23pm

The Santa Cruz County Public Health Division is taking additional steps in response to the ongoing increase in hepatitis A cases in Santa Cruz County.

County health officials believe the outbreak stemmed from the recent deadly outbreak in San Diego. Santa Cruz County normally sees 1-2 cases each year, this year the county has identified close to 70. The homeless population has been affected the most, but cases outside of that population have also occurred. Those who do not have access to sanitary facilities or who share syringes are more likely to contract the virus. 

Santa Cruz County Health Officer, Arnold Leff, says the most effective way to prevent getting Hep A is to get vaccinated. Leff said after the first two cases were reported in April the county jumped on getting people vaccinated. Officials are hopeful they can get a handle on the outbreak before it spreads even more.      

The city of Santa Cruz is also doing their part to fight the outbreak. Deputy City Manager, Scott Collins, says the city is adding wash stations to all public portable bathrooms. They hope this step will help reduce the spread in the most impacted community.

Symptoms of hepatitis A include: jaundice, fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine or light colored stool.  In severe cases the virus can be deadly.

The County is recommending businesses clean and disinfect bathrooms with bleach, properly clean food prep surface areas, assure that employees wash hands with soap and water and use proper latex gloves when cleaning. 

 

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The Santa Cruz County Public Health Division is taking additional steps in response to the ongoing increase in hepatitis A cases in Santa Cruz County.

Previously, the County conducted targeted public education, a series of vaccination clinics for vulnerable populations and extensive outreach to inform vulnerable individuals about minimizing the risk of contracting the hepatitis A virus.

Most cases have occurred in individuals with poor access to sanitary facilities. Hepatitis A is an inflammation of the liver and is usually transmitted through the fecal-oral route, including person-to-person contact, touching contaminated surfaces or consuming contaminated food or water. 

Typically, Santa Cruz County Public Health officials will see 1-2 cases of hepatitis A per year. The County has identified more than 60 cases in the last five months, including a small number of cases outside vulnerable populations. There have been no fatalities.

KION's Ashley Keehn will have more at 5 and 6.


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