15 dead in hepatitis outbreak as San Diego starts street washing

Councilwoman Zapf calls on city to take strong actions against Hepatitis A outbreak

The goal is to encourage more people to wash their hands and stop the spread of the disease. Instead, the disease seems to spread from person-to-person and through the contact with "a fecally contaminated environment".

San Diego has started washing its downtown streets with bleach in an effort to combat an outbreak of Hepatitis A that has killed at least 15 people and infected almost 400.

Amid an outbreak across San Diego County that health officials say has led to 16 deaths and almost 300 hospitalizations, workers were power-washing areas in downtown San Diego earlier this week with water laced with chlorine and bleach, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. There were 5,619 people reported homeless in San Diego earlier this year, 3,231 of whom were living on the streets without shelter, according to the Regional Task Force on the Homeless.

The measures detailed plans to use bleach-spiked water for high-pressure washing to remove "all feces, blood, bodily fluids or contaminated surfaces".

Contractors started spraying down areas Monday with the diluted household bleach solution, continued Wednesday, and are set to hit the final zone of downtown by Friday, according to a city spokesperson.

While the city has worked on finding housing opportunities for the homeless, the decision also comes in the wake of a deadly hepatitis A outbreak, which has largely impacted the homeless.

"We know that L.A. has had no local cases of hepatitis A related to the strain that we're seeing here in San Diego", Wooten said. The city of San Diego said it would keep 14 restrooms open 24 hours a day in Balboa Park, where numerous city's homeless stay, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

"The issue is getting people, especially those who might be living on the street, into care and getting the series (of shots)", Saag adds.

"Frankly we can't take any more time worrying what group will be offended, lives are on the line, we need to take action", the mayor said. Dozens of hand-washing stations have been installed, with more on the way.

The virus outbreak has affected San Diegans since November 2016, but not only the homeless.

On Friday, the city said it would "fully comply with the directive", targeting areas in downtown frequented by homeless people at risk of contracting Hepatitis A.

"Unless you use the stick of law enforcement along with the carrot of treatment, the homeless will continue to come to San Diego and congregate on our streets", DeMaio notes.

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