West Hollywood Health Advisory: LA County Declares Hepatitis A Outbreak

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Los Angeles County health officials declared a hepatitis A outbreak Tuesday, days after a public health emergency was announced in San Diego County, where at least 16 people have died of the highly contagious virus.

Case numbers are still small in L.A. County, with only 10 people infected as part of the outbreak, said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the L.A. County Department of Public Health. By comparison, almost 450 people have contracted the virus in San Diego.

The City of West Hollywood is getting the word out that, on Tuesday, September 19, 2017, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) declared an outbreak of Hepatitis A in Los Angeles County. Ten total cases have been confirmed in Los Angeles County; these cases are associated with people who are experiencing homelessness or with illicit drug use.

The local Hepatitis A outbreak follows a currently ongoing outbreak in San Diego County with more than 450 cases since November 2016 and follows an outbreak in Santa Cruz County, which has had more than 65 cases.

It has been reported that at least 16 people have died in San Diego after the recent outbreak of the extremely contagious virus.

A majority of cases in those counties have occurred in persons who are experiencing homelessness and/or who use illicit drugs, with several cases also occurring among people who provide services to homeless populations.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Hepatitis A is a liver infection caused by the Hepatitis A virus (HAV). Hepatitis A is highly contagious. It is usually transmitted by the fecal-oral route, either through person-to-person contact or consumption of contaminated food or water.”

According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health: “Signs and symptoms of acute HAV include fever, malaise, dark urine, lack of appetite, nausea, and stomach pain, followed by jaundice. Symptoms generally last for less than two months although some persons may have prolonged or more severe illness.”

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health recommends the following steps to prevent Hepatitis A:

  • Get vaccinated for Hepatitis A;
  • Don’t have sex with someone who has Hepatitis A infection;
  • Use your own towels, toothbrushes, and eating utensils;
  • Don’t share food, drinks, or smokes with other people; and
  • Wash hands with soap and water after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and before preparing, serving, or eating food.

The Hepatitis A vaccine is given as two shots, six months apart. The vaccine is safe and effective, and even a single dose is highly effective in adults. Community members are advised to talk with their physicians about vaccination.

Public Health Centers countywide administer Hepatitis A vaccinations at low or no cost on a sliding scale. The City of West Hollywood’s nearest Public Health Center is the Hollywood/Wilshire Health Center, located at 5205 Melrose Avenue in the City of Los Angeles. Hepatitis A vaccines are provided to walk-in patients on Mondays from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. and on Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. For more information, please call the Hollywood/Wilshire Health Center at (323) 769-7800.

The Los Angeles LGBT Center WeHo, located at 8745 Santa Monica Boulevard, administers Hepatitis A vaccines to patients who are on a Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) regimen. For more information, please call the Los Angeles LGBT Center WeHo at (323) 993-7440.

For additional up-to-date information from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) about Hepatitis A in Los Angeles County, please visit http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/acd/Diseases/HepA.htm.

For additional information about risk factors and preventing the spread of Hepatitis A, visit http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/media/hepa/index.htm.

For more information, please contact the City of West Hollywood’s Social Services Division at (323) 848-6510. For people who are deaf or hearing impaired, please call TTY (323) 848-6496.

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Paulo Murillo
Paulo Murillo is Editor in Chief and Publisher of WEHO TIMES. He brings over 20 years of experience in LGBT media and more than two decades as a West Hollywood resident. Murillo began his professional writing career as the author of “Love Ya, Mean It,” an irreverent and sometimes controversial West Hollywood lifestyle column for FAB! newspaper. Murillo’s work has appeared in numerous print and online publications. He was a contributor to LGBT magazine IN Los Angeles. He is known for the “Hot Topic” column in Frontiers magazine, in which he covered breaking news and local events in the City of West Hollywood. His recent work has been published in the Los Angeles Blade and his articles, essays and photographs can also be seen on the pages of THE FIGHT Magazine. He started “The Share” feature for THE FIGHT, which spotlights members of the Los Angeles recovery community who share about their sober journey. He can be reached at editor@wehotimes.com

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