Orange County sees no need to increase measures to prevent hepatitis A outbreak amid homeless population – Orange County Register

Public health officials in Los Angeles County declared an outbreak of hepatitis A early last week with 10 people infected, while in San Diego County containment efforts have been stepped-up among the street population where the disease has killed 16 homeless people and infected hundreds of others.

But with only one reported local case of hepatitis A related to the San Diego outbreak so far, Orange County health officials are holding steady to relying on offering vaccinations to homeless people here in order to prevent spread of the disease.

As of the middle of last week, Public Health nurses had vaccinated 364 people at 20 pop-up clinics in locations such as the flood control channel where the homeless reside or receive services, said Health Care Agency spokeswoman Jessica Good.

The vaccinations will continue with several clinics offered each week, Good said. Past locations have ranged from local soup kitchens and shelters to the Mental Health Association’s drop-in center.

Over the next few days those clinics will be held at sites that include The Courtyard shelter in downtown Santa Ana and a Civic Center location in conjunction with the Orange County Needle Exchange Program.

Vaccinations also will be offered again this week to people living in the county’s flood control channel, via the Fount Church, Good said.

In addition, the Health Care Agency will provide onsite vaccinations to clients in behavioral health residential and outpatient programs. County jails also will screen inmates and offer hepatitis A vaccinations to those with a recent history of homelessness or drug use, Good said.

Advocates for the homeless argue for better sanitation services that would include hand-washing stations and portable toilets in areas where large clusters of homeless people live, particularly along the Santa Ana River Bike trail near Angel Stadium in Anaheim.

Hepatitis A is spread by person-to-person contact when an infected person does not wash his hands properly after using the bathroom and touches objects, food, or drinks that become contaminated by feces or stool.

On Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 20, lawyer and homeless advocate Mohammed Aly was arrested and could face a felony charge of dumping a hazardous substance. He poured what he says was bleach in a stagnant standing pool of water by a water fountain and bottle-filling station south of Orangewood Avenue in Anaheim that is used by homeless people to shower and wash clothes and dishes.

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