San Diego has a battle on their hands with an outbreak of hepatitis A linked to the homeless population defecating in the downtown area on the streets and sidewalks. Lack of 24/7 public bathroom access has left those without a home also without a place to answer nature’s call, causing a major health problem in that city.
This is not a small problem as San Diego has already seen 16 deaths and more than 400 hospitalizations with this outbreak. The recent campaign calls for sanitizing the streets and sidewalks using a bleach and water solution delivered in a high-pressure spray.
As Fox News reports, the aggressive plan, which is already underway, calls for the removal of all feces, blood, and bodily fluids on the contaminated surfaces in the downtown area using the power wash with bleach and water. Along with the washing efforts, public restr00ms will be available around the clock and hand-washing stations will be installed in areas where the homeless congregate.
San Diego does have a model to follow after Los Angeles battled this same problem with a sanitation campaign. After the plan to educate and vaccinate against the spread of hepatitis didn’t work at curbing the infection rate, the clean and sanitize campaign was what the city opted for as their weapon in the battle against the spread of the disease.
According to NPR, it was back in early March when the strain of hepatitis A was first identified. The homeless population in San Diego has skyrocketed in recent years. This is visibly evident by a number of tents and makeshift structures that have sprouted up. The lack of affordable housing is the biggest contributor to the people becoming homeless in San Diego, according to NPR.
Hepatitis is a disease that attacks the liver and the majority of the victims in this outbreak in San Diego come from the homeless population. It is spread through fecal matter, which is why this cleaning is of utmost importance, convey officials.
The cleaning is already underway and the plan calls for the sanitizing of the sidewalks, streets, and any other vulnerable surfaces three times a week, every other week until this outbreak is curtailed. The county public health officer, Dr. Wilma Wooten, said that they could see an increase in hepatitis cases before the numbers start to decline. This is due to the long incubation period of the disease, reports Wooten. It may be the case that some who have this disease don’t know it yet, as symptoms take a while to surface.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “If you have hepatitis A, you may have a mild illness that lasts a few weeks or a severe illness that lasts several months. Not everyone with hepatitis A develops signs or symptoms.” If you have hepatitis A, the symptoms don’t typically appear until you have had the disease a few weeks and as it says above, sometimes symptoms don’t appear at all. According to the Mayo Clinic, the symptoms of hepatitis A include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal pain or discomfort, especially in the area of your liver on your right side beneath your lower ribs
- Clay-colored bowel movements
- Low-grade fever
- Loss of appetite
- Joint pain
- Dark urine
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
The county got involved and asked that the city “immediately expand access to public restrooms and wash stations within the city limits that are adjacent to at-risk p0pulation.” This was included in a letter to the city officials from the county which also asked that they “move forward” with sanitizing the downtown area and to come up with a plan to do this. They were given five days to respond to the letter with a plan. That plan was not only created, but immediately launched.
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