County Declares Hepatitis A Outbreak Over

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Santa Cruz County health officer Dr. Arnold Leff declared Monday that the Hepatitis A outbreak in Santa Cruz is over.

The outbreak in Santa Cruz was part of larger outbreak throughout the state beginning in San Diego. Since April 2017, after a person infected during the San Diego outbreak traveled to Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz county has seen 76 confirmed cases of Hepatitis A — a disease that affects the liver and causes vomiting, diarrhea and jaundice.

Leff’s declaration comes exactly 100 days since the last recorded case of Hepatitis A in Santa Cruz on Oct. 28, 2017. This time frame represents two whole incubation periods for the virus, which is the threshold for officials to declare that an epidemic has ended.

“It was an all hands on deck emergency response to the first two cases,” Leff said. “We vaccinated almost 1,500 people and educated literally thousands. Between the two of those things, I think that’s what got a handle on it.”

Leff also credited the outbreak’s end to the county’s effective coordination of care and education between Public Health and Environmental Health Services divisions, as well as the city of Santa Cruz’s cooperation in installing more hand-washing stations and portable restrooms. He felt the Hepatitis A outbreak was a driver for accelerating official conversations about providing more and better services to the houseless community.

“The issue is still developing a sanitation infrastructure for those who are unsheltered,” Leff said. “I think that as result of the Hepatitis A outbreak, there’s been lots more activity and planning with the city of Santa Cruz and the county.”

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Sean D. Ross is editor for the City News desk at City on a Hill Press. Previously, Sean served as an editor for the Investigative News desk and as a reporter for the Campus, City and Sports desks over the past two years. Before coming to UC Santa Cruz, he was News Editor for the Diablo Valley College Inquirer, contributing to the Inquirer earning the Journalism Association of Community Colleges’ “General Excellence” award at the 2016 Northern California Conference. For his coverage of California fires in the fall of 2017, Sean was awarded third prize in the California College Media Association’s Breaking News competition. Sean is pursuing a career in law, and has interned for renowned California attorney James M. Wagstaffe. Besides casually browsing LexisNexis, Sean enjoys board games of all stripes, competitive Magic: the Gathering, playing the french horn, automotive racing and the literary stylings of Neil Gaiman.