Hepatitis A outbreak "to get worse" in California
“I don’t think the worst is over,” said Jessica Randolph, public health manager for Santa Cruz County, California. "It can take up to 50 days for an infected person to show symptoms."
Hepatitis A can be fatal and has already resulted in 17 deaths in San Diego.
California’s outbreak of hepatitis A, already the nation’s second largest outbreak in 20 years, could continue for many months, even years, said Dr. Monique Foster on Thursday.
Dr. Foster is a medical epidemiologist with the Division of Viral Hepatitis at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This department is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The outbreak started in San Diego and has already spread 112 miles north to Los Angeles, and 400 miles to Santa Cruz County, California. From Santa Cruz, the disease only has 60 miles to reach San Francisco.
Even worse, Dr. Foster said California’s outbreak could "last quite some time, usually over a year, one to two years", even with the right prevention efforts.
At least 569 people have been infected and 17 have died of the virus since November in San Diego, Santa Cruz and Los Angeles counties, where local outbreaks have been declared.
People with hepatitis A could travel and unknowingly infect people in new places, creating more outbreaks said the CDC.
Back in April, the County Office of San Diego reported 42 hepatitis A cases in six months, four times the monthly average. Two died. Three dozen were hospitalization.