San Diego power-washing streets with bleach amid hepatitis outbreak

California's San Diego County is in the middle of a major hepatitis A outbreak that has led to 16 deaths and almost 300 people being hospitalized, according to its Health and Human Services Agency.

County health officials declared a local public health emergency on Sept. 1. Since November 2016, 421 cases of hepatitis A have been reported, according to the California Health Alert Network, with the onset of symptoms between Nov. 22, 2016, and Sept. 8. Patients have ranged from 5 to 87 years old.

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"The majority of people who have contracted hepatitis A are homeless and/or illicit drug users, although some cases have been neither," the Health and Human Services Agency said.

To battle the outbreak, officials in the city of San Diego are planning to power-wash streets with bleach every other week. The bleach solution reportedly will be used predominantly on streets occupied by the homeless population.

Additionally, officials have installed dozens of hand-washing stations in San Diego County, and the Health and Human Services Agency is distributing hygiene kits that contain hand sanitizer, cleansing wipes, bottled water, an informational flyer and a waste bag.

Hepatitis A is a potentially deadly disease that attacks the liver. The San Diego County outbreak is being spread person-to-person and through contact with a fecally contaminated environment, officials said.

Vaccines are available to those without insurance at county public health centers. A list can be found here.

Copyright 2017 U.S. News & World Report

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