Gov. Brown declares hepatitis A state of emergency

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Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency to combat a hepatitis A outbreak that has claimed 18 lives in San Diego.

The CDPH has already distributed almost 80,000 doses of the vaccine through a federal program, though those supplies have not been enough to control the outbreak, according to the CDPH.

"California is now experiencing the largest person-to-person hepatitis A virus outbreak in the United States since the hepatitis A vaccine became available 22 years ago", the governor said in his proclamation.

CDPH said the vaccine for adults differs from the one for children, of which there is ample supply.

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Hepatitis A is transmitted through feces, typically when the virus is taken in by mouth from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by the feces of an infected person, according to the CDC.

To control this outbreak and prevent further spread, CDPH recommends the vaccination of people in affected areas who are homeless or using illicit drugs. Most people who contract the infection recover completely. Vaccinating at-risk populations and improving sanitation "are the most effective ways to stop the person-to-person spread of the hepatitis A virus", according to the emergency proclamation. "Today's order will help ensure communities can continue to deliver the vaccines where they are needed most".

San Diego County officials earlier this month declared a public health emergency because of the liver disease outbreak that has killed 16 people and hospitalized 300 more since November. Severe hepatitis A infection is rare but does occur in people with underlying liver disease and can cause the liver to fail, potentially leading to death.

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