San Diego has been battling with an extremely aggressive outbreak of Hepatitis A, an infection that targets the liver and may result in death in severe cases.
The victims have been mainly homeless people, who have been coming to the city in significantly increasing numbers.
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The situation is grave: since November 2016, the outbreak has infected hundreds of people and left 15 dead; the crisis appears to be hitting the city’s homeless the hardest. According to the San Diego Health & Human Services Agency (HHSA), as of Sept. 5, 2017, the current outbreak has infected 398 people and caused 279 hospitalizations.
The San Diego HHSA noted that most of the people infected with the disease are either homeless or drug users, and that the outbreak is being spread between people through contact with a “fecally contaminated environment.” That essentially means that the new victim is usually an unvaccinated person who ingests food or water, touches an object, or uses drugs contaminated with fecal matter from an infected person.
Aggravating things is the fact that San Diego’s homeless population has been skyrocketing: while the number of homeless people across the county increased 5 percent in the past year, according to the Regional Task Force on the Homeless, those living on the streets of downtown San Diego spiked 27 percent.