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HealthBeat

San Diego bleaching streets to fight hepatitis outbreak

City workers are washing San Diego streets with bleach in an attempt to stop a hepatitis A outbreak that has infected hundreds.

The outbreak appears to be hitting the homeless population especially hard, which is why city officials are taking to the streets this week to hose down sidewalks with bleach. Part of the problem is an apparent shortage of public restrooms, according to an NPR article.

Health officials say the infectious disease is being spread through contact with a “fecally contaminated environment” and person-to-person transmission, according to the article.

Late last month, county officials ordered the city to carry out street washing and expand public restroom access.

In response, city workers are spraying areas frequented by homeless people with a diluted household bleach solution. They’re also removing contaminated items, like human waste and needles, and pressure-washing the area, according to the NPR article.

In addition, the city has set up dozens of hand-washing stations, with more on the way, according to the article.

San Diego County has also provided 19,000 hepatitis A immunizations, which have been distributed at more than 250 mass vaccination events. Nurses have also gone out to areas with large homeless populations to administer the vaccines.

Marissa Harshman

I'm the health reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. I started at The Columbian -- my hometown newspaper -- in September 2009. Reach me at marissa.harshman@columbian.com or 360-735-4546.

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