from the wash-your-hands dept.
San Diego's homeless population has been hit hardest by the highly contagious hepatitis A virus.
The outbreak, which began in November, has spread after vaccination and educational programs in the city failed to reduce the infection rate. The virus attacks the liver.
The public health declaration bolsters the county Health and Human Services Agency's ability to request state assistance to fund new sanitation measures. Areas with high concentrations of homeless people will receive dozens of portable hand-washing stations. Health workers will also use bleached-spiked water for power-washing contaminated surfaces.
Dr. Wilma Wooten, the San Diego Public Health Officer who signed the declaration into law on Friday, says the sanitation precautions are modeled after similar programs in other Southern California cities - including Los Angeles.
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San Diego workers will power-wash streets with a bleach solution in an attempt to stop the spread of Hepatitis A:
At least 15 people have died in San Diego from an ongoing hepatitis A outbreak. In an effort to stop the spread of the viral liver disease, city officials have begun power-washing streets across the downtown area, according to NBC San Diego.
As of Monday, workers dressed in protective white gear and red hard hats were seen outside spraying the sidewalks with a bleach-based liquid in hopes of killing the virus that lives in human feces. "We're probably going to be doing them every other Monday, see how that works out at least for the time being," Jose Ysea, a city spokesman, told NBC San Diego.
The high-pressure power-washing system using bleach will hopefully remove "all feces, blood, bodily fluids or contaminated surfaces," according to a sanitation plan included in a letter delivered to San Diego city officials, the Associated Press reports. For now, just streets in San Diego are being washed, but in the near future hand-washing and street-sanitizing efforts will be implemented in other cities in the region, Dr. Wilma Wooten, the region's public health officer, told the AP.