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Local health officials closely watching hepatitis A outbreaks in - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Local health officials closely watching hepatitis A outbreaks in other counties

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At least 15 people have died and hundreds of others have been diagnosed with hepatitis A in San Diego County. 

As health officials there try to contain the outbreak, the San Luis Obispo County Department of Public Health says there's been just one case locally this year. That person was infected in Santa Cruz County, another area with an outbreak. 

Meantime, crews in San Diego are pressure washing streets with a bleach solution to fight the deadly hep A outbreak there. 

While some say it lies in the city's homeless community, the county estimates 30 percent of those infected are not homeless or drug users. 

"It is definitely cause for keeping eyes open and ears open and making sure that we're being very vigilant," said Dr. Penny Borenstein, SLO County Health Officer. 

SLO County Public Health is in communication with local health care providers about the virus that affects the liver and is spread through feces. 

It's commonly spread when food is contaminated by a lack of hygiene, so washing your hands is key. 

"Little disappointed because we have such good prevention available," said local pediatrician Dr. Rene Bravo. 

He says the hepatitis A vaccine is typically given at one year of age and a booster is given six months later. It's been recommended by the CDC since 2006. 

"It's been a long, long time since I've seen hep a, and before the vaccine, we used to see it real frequently. A child would come in yellow, traveled to Mexico, etc.," Dr. Bravo added. 

Adults can still get vaccinated and will be protected for life. You can do so at the public health department or your healthcare provider. 

There's no effective treatment for hepatitis A. It has to run its course naturally, and that typically lasts a couple weeks to a couple months. 

Hepatitis A, B and C are often confused. They are all viruses but transmitted differently. 

"Hepatitis B is most commonly transmitted through sexual contact or drug use or mom to baby at the time of birth," Dr. Borenstein said. 

Hep C is commonly related to drug use and the sharing of syringes and needles. 
 

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