There are ongoing hepatitis A outbreaks in three California counties – Los Angeles, San Diego, and Santa Cruz. Those most at risk are individuals who are experiencing homelessness and those using illicit drugs with limited sanitation. These outbreaks are not related to a contaminated food product or a common source.
Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus. It is spread when the virus is ingested by mouth from contact with hands, objects, food, or drinks that are contaminated by the feces of an infected person. Illicit drug use (whether injected or not) is also a common transmission factor.
Some people with hepatitis A infection have no symptoms, while others can experience mild to severe symptoms, which typically causes fever, a general ill feeling, yellowing of the skin/eyes, lack of appetite, and nausea. Although most people recover completely within a few weeks to a few months, those who are immune compromised are at higher risk for a severe hepatitis A infection that can cause the liver to fail, which can lead to death.
Infected people are most contagious during the two weeks before developing symptoms. The usual time period from exposure to showing symptoms is 15-50 days. Additionally, hepatitis A virus can live for months outside the human body. Therefore, it is crucial to exercise proper handwashing and sanitation techniques.
Frequent handwashing with soap and warm water after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, or before preparing or handling food can help prevent the spread of hepatitis A. It is recommended you wash (lather) your hands for at least 20 seconds.
It is important to maintain routine and consistent cleaning of bathrooms for employees, public, and personal use. When sanitizing surfaces, gloves and protective clothing should be worn and all frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned using a mixture of chlorine bleach and water. See the disinfection guidance documents below for more information.
For more information, contact:
Sacramento County Public Health