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.
A candlelight vigil was held Friday evening in El Cajon to remember the Granite Hills High School senior killed in a car crash on Monday.
Dozens of low income seniors in Rancho Penasquitos are now searching for a new to live after a controversial plan to raze their apartment complex moved forward on Friday.
Animal-welfare officials reached out to the public Friday for help identifying and locating whoever allowed a large friendly dog to starve nearly to death before being found wandering weakly through Logan Heights.
The U.S. government on Friday announced a seventh straight monthly increase in people being arrested or denied entry along the Mexican border, erasing much of the early gains of President Donald Trump's push to tighten the border.
The man accused of killing 29-year-old Omar Medina, whose body was found floating inside a 55-gallon drum in San Diego Bay, pleaded not guilty on Friday.
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A man accused of fatally shooting San Diego police Officer Jonathan "J.D." DeGuzman and wounding his partner last year in Southcrest will face the death penalty if convicted, a prosecutor said Friday.