After 16 people have died and nearly 300 more have been hospitalized due to a hepatitis A outbreak, San Diego County workers have begun to hose down the streets with bleach, the Washington Post reports.
The outbreak has mostly affected homeless populations in San Diego County, and is likely due to a lack of public bathroom access. Health officials in the county said that the virus is "being spread person-to-person and through contact with a fecally contaminated environment."
Hepatitis A is a deadly liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus. "The disease is closely associated with unsafe water or food, inadequate sanitation, and poor personal hygiene," according to the World Health Organization. Symptoms can include: fever, malaise, loss of appetite, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal discomfort, dark-colored urine, and jaundice.
Workers with the Clean Harbors company began power-washing the streets in downtown San Diego Monday, with a mixture of chlorine and bleach.
Other than power-washing the streets with bleach, in an attempt to kill the virus, San Diego County is taking other measures to combat the spread, including making 14 of the public bathrooms in Balboa Park, where many of the city’s homeless stay, open 24 hours a day. On Friday, San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer is expected to announce a plan to set up large tents equipped with restrooms, hand-washing stations, and showers to provide temporary shelter for hundreds of homeless people, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
“By disinfecting our sidewalks and making additional public restrooms available 24/7, we’re following the direction of county health officials to address the unsanitary conditions that have helped fuel this outbreak,” Craig Gustafson, senior director of communications for the mayor, told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “We’re taking swift action to eradicate this virus from our streets and keep our most vulnerable residents safe.”
Read these stories next: