Los Angeles County Officials Investigate Hepatitis A Outbreak Among Homeless
Los Angeles County health officials are investigating an outbreak of hepatitis A among the county's homeless population, the Los Angeles Times reports. Efforts to address the outbreak have been affected by difficulty "finding patients amid the highly transient population" and the disease's long incubation period, according to the Times.
Laurene Mascola, director of Los Angeles County's acute communicable disease control unit, said health officials noticed an increase of suspected hepatitis A cases in August and September and identified a cluster of cases among the homeless population. Mascola said the outbreak is "centralized in two or three areas around downtown."
In October, 115 suspected cases were reported, compared with 31 cases in October 2004 -- the largest reported monthly increase.
Los Angeles County Public Health Director Jonathan Fielding said health officials are working to confirm suspected cases and conducting follow-up interviews with some infected patients.
John King, president and CEO of the Weingart Center, said health officials are paying particular attention to places people might have eaten, including churches and food trucks (Mia DiMassa, Los Angeles Times, 11/5).