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.
RELATED: City leaders kick off Hepatitis A prevention campaign
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.
RELATED: Hepatitis A case reported at popular Pacific Beach restaurant
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.
A 27-year-old man suffered fatal injuries as the result of a "punching game'' inside of a bar Saturday morning in the Gaslamp
neighborhood of San Diego.
SANDAG began removing call boxes along urban highways throughout the San Diego region this month and will continue to do so through June, reflecting a decrease in call volume due to the increase in cell phone ownership.
Authorities today announced that police have arrested a suspect in connection with Friday's sexual assault on the campus of San Diego Mesa College. The name of the suspect was not immediately released.
Showers will be mostly light Saturday morning, decreasing into early Saturday afternoon. Another round of showers expected to push through late afternoon ending late Saturday night.
Police Chief David Nisleit Friday strongly disavowed what he described as an unofficial, "never authorized" departmental program that rewarded officers for making narcotics arrests.
On Friday, San Diego Police announced their search for a suspect involved in a robbery off the San Diego State University campus.
A court-appointed receiver has taken control of a Pacific Beach "hoarder house" that has accumulated trash, created unsafe conditions for children and harbored vermin in recent years, the San Diego City Attorney's Office announced Friday.
The owners of Hauser's Patio reached out to News 8 Friday morning asking to be put in contact with the couple who had their furniture stolen from their patio in Pacific Beach this week.