SAN DIEGO (CNS) - One more death and additional new cases were reported Tuesday as a result of the hepatitis A outbreak in the San Diego County region, prompting the Board of Supervisors to keep a public health emergency declaration in place.
Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer, said the death toll has climbed to 17, with 17 additional cases and 10 more hospitalizations this week.
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A total of 461 cases have been confirmed in the region, in what has been described as the largest outbreak of the virus in decades. The outbreak began last November, but was not identified until March. The youngest person to be infected was a 5-year-old who had not been previously vaccinated, Wooten said.
The health crisis has primarily hit the homeless population, accounting for 232 cases. About 154 of those were illicit drug users, she said.
Health officials say the most effective way to fight the contagious liver disease is by vaccinating at-risk populations, which include first responders, food handlers, health care professionals, service workers who interact with the homeless, workers in substance abuse programs and public transit employees.
In the past several months, county officials have made vaccines available free to the public, including those in homeless encampments and other hepatitis A hot spots. Officials said more than 40,000 people have been vaccinated so far. To continue the momentum in battling the virus, the city of San Diego has partnered with the county to provide free vaccinations at public libraries through December.
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Other sanitation measures have included the installment of 41 hand- washing stations and a new 24-hour restroom facility in the downtown area, where homeless people tend to congregate. Currently, there are 22 public restrooms downtown.
The operating hours of 14 restrooms in Balboa Park have also been expanded to 24 hours a day, and city streets are being power-washed and bleached on a regular basis.
Weaker Santa Ana winds continue Wednesday, through Thursday. Winds not as strong or widespread but dry gusty flow still creates an elevated fire risk.
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A transient who later committed suicide was the killer of a mentally disabled Carlsbad woman whose Valentine's Day slaying went unsolved for nearly a dozen years, authorities announced Tuesday.
Fire crews appeared to make major progress Tuesday on the deadly Woolsey Fire in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, with a series of evacuation orders lifted, but a large flare-up near Westlake Village served as a reminder that the battle was far from over.
Six San Diego school districts will continue to be closed Wednesday due to San Diego Gas & Electric's public safety power shut off.
Firefighters struggled to contain the most deadly and destructive wildfire in California history Tuesday while mobile coroner's teams combed the incinerated remains of a once thriving town and its environs looking for more victims of the carnage.
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A first grade class at Saint Mary School in Escondido received new iPad cases and accessories Tuesday thanks to the Larry Himmel Neighborhood Foundation. The school's principal said the tools will help further student engagement in lessons and other education activities on the devices.
A family accused of running phony charities to help wounded vets and rescue abused horses has been ordered to pay nearly $9 million in a California state lawsuit.