Deadliest Disease Outbreak in Decades Forces State of Emergency

After an outbreak of deadly hepatitis A claimed the lives of 18 people, and forced nearly 500 into hospitalization, California Gov. Jerry Brown has now officially declared a state of emergency within the Golden State.

Per the San Diego Union Tribune:

“The declaration allows state health officials to buy additional doses of the hepatitis A vaccine to try to halt the outbreak, which is already the nation’s second largest in more than two decades.

The outbreak began in San Diego’s homeless community late last year, but has since spread outside the region. Los Angeles and Santa Cruz counties are also now experiencing outbreaks.

So far, 581 people in California have been sickened with the liver virus, more than half of whom have ended up in the hospital. The virus is particularly dangerous, and can be fatal, for people who already have other liver diseases, such as hepatitis B or C.

Federal health officials said last week that, even with the ongoing efforts to slow the spread of the disease, California’s outbreak could last years.”

While contaminated food is the most commonly the means of transmitting the deadly disease, California’s outbreak of Hepatitis A is believed to be spreading from person to person, mostly by drug users and within the homeless community.

And although numerous measures have already been taken to halt its contagious spread, including installation of portable hand-washing stations, sanitizing of city streets, and distribution of vaccines, virtually none of the efforts have yielded successful results.

According to the Associated Press, U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) has called on the federal government to provide emergency funding to halt the spread. By doing so, the emergency proclamation grants the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) the ability to purchase vaccines immediately and directly from manufacturers, and to distribute them as needed.

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