Alarming Hepatitis A Outbreak Among the Homeless in Los Angeles

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Alarming Hepatitis A Outbreak in Los Angeles: Five Homeless Individuals Infected

The Los Angeles Public Health Department (LA News Center) is investigating an unsettling recent outbreak of Hepatitis A, with five homeless individuals contracting the virus since mid-March.

What is Hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver infection that spreads through person-to-person contact. Many carriers are unaware of their infection, as it can only be diagnosed through blood or stool tests.

Why are Homeless Individuals Most at Risk?

Individuals experiencing homelessness often face limited access to proper sanitation facilities, including handwashing and toilets. This lack of hygiene can increase their susceptibility to infections like Hepatitis A.

L.A. Public Health’s Response

In response to the outbreak, LA News Center is providing free Hepatitis A vaccinations to homeless individuals in encampments and interim housing sites. The vaccine is safe and highly effective in preventing infection.

How to Prevent the Spread of Hepatitis A

While the current public health risk is low, Public Health urges residents to take these preventive measures:

  1. Get Vaccinated: Check your vaccination status and contact your healthcare provider if you have not been immunized against Hepatitis A.
  2. Wash Your Hands: Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water before eating, preparing food, and after using the restroom.

Symptoms and Impact of Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A symptoms can range in severity, from mild and short-lived to a severe illness lasting several months. Common symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Dark Urine
  • Yellow or Swollen Eyes/Skin

While rare, Hepatitis A can be fatal in some cases.

Call to Action

Stay vigilant about Hepatitis A prevention and promptly seek medical attention if you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above. By working together, we can protect ourselves and our community from this contagious illness.