Grand jury faults re­sponse to hep­ati­tis out­break

Imperial Valley Press - - LOCAL REGION -

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A grand jury re­port fol­low­ing the worst out­break of Hep­ati­tis A in the United States in 20 years faulted the re­sponse of San Diego city and county of­fi­cials on Thurs­day and rec­om­mended im­prov­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions to pre­pare for fu­ture health emer­gen­cies.

The out­break killed 20 peo­ple and sick­ened 577 peo­ple be­tween Novem­ber 2016 and Oc­to­ber 2017.

The re­port, ti­tled “The San Diego Hep­ati­tis A Epi­demic: (Mis)han­dling a Pub­lic Health Cri­sis,” crit­i­cizes the county and city for in­ad­e­quate co­or­di­na­tion that de­layed san­i­ta­tion pro­ce­dures that could have slowed the spread of the dis­ease.

County and city of­fi­cials didn’t im­me­di­ately com­ment on the re­port. An email to Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer’s of­fice was not im­me­di­ately re­turned Thurs­day.

The Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion says Hep­ati­tis A is a vac­cine-pre­ventable, com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­ease of the liver caused by a virus. It is usu­ally transmitted per­son-to-per­son or by con­sum­ing con­tam­i­nated food or wa­ter. Symp­toms in­clude fa­tigue, low appetite, stom­ach pain, nausea, and jaun­dice.

The 20-page re­port com­mended of­fi­cials for ef­fec­tively con­tact­ing at-risk res­i­dents and get­ting them vac­ci­na­tions, ac­cord­ing to the San Diego Union-Tri­bune . Among the recommendations in the re­port are up­dat­ing the county’s emer­gency op­er­a­tions plan, es­tab­lish­ing clear lines of author­ity and des­ig­nat­ing a med­i­cal pro­fes­sional to re­port di­rectly to the mayor.

It also rec­om­mends build­ing more se­cure re­strooms and hand wash­ing sta­tions in ar­eas where home­less peo­ple con­gre­gate.

Of­fi­cials vac­ci­nated more than 100,000 peo­ple, in­stalled scores of hand-wash­ing sta­tions and cleaned streets with a bleach so­lu­tion to con­tain the virus that lives in fe­ces. The emer­gency ended in Jan­uary.

The grand jury, which con­sisted of 19 re­tired pro­fes­sion­als, in­ter­viewed ad­min­is­tra­tive per­son­nel from the county Health and Hu­man Ser­vices Agency, up­per-level man­age­ment from sev­eral lo­cal cities and law en­force­ment per­son­nel through­out the re­gion be­fore draw­ing its con­clu­sions, the news­pa­per said.

Writ­ten re­ports, in­clud­ing lo­cal me­dia ac­counts, pro­fes­sional med­i­cal pa­pers and in­ter­nal emails were also ex­am­ined.


In this Sept. 25, 2017, file photo, po­lice of­fi­cers re­move a tent left by the home­less in San Diego dur­ing on­go­ing efforts to san­i­tize neigh­bor­hoods to con­trol the spread of hep­ati­tis A. AP

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