2-1-1 San Diego is partnering with the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency’s Public Health Services department to ensure San Diegans are educated about hepatitis A. Frequent hand washing with soap and water can help prevent the spread of hepatitis A. During the present outbreak, hepatitis A vaccine is NOT being recommended for the San Diego general public and is being recommended only for the at-risk populations. The majority of cases are occurring in individuals who are homeless and/or use illicit drugs. It is recommended that all persons who are homeless and/or illicit drug users, men who have sex with men, people who work with, and those that provide services to or clean up after the homeless and/or illicit drug users receive a hepatitis A vaccine.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is highly contagious (spread person-to-person) liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus (germ) that attacks the liver. People infected with hepatitis A usually get better on their own after a few months, but they can be very sick during infection (nausea, vomiting, tiredness, skin or eyes turning yellow, dark urine). Not everyone gets symptoms when they have hepatitis A.
How is hepatitis A spread?
Hepatitis A spreads by putting something in your mouth (object, food or drink) that has been in contact with the feces (poop) of an infected person. Frequent hand washing can help prevent the spread of hepatitis A. A vaccine can protect against hepatitis A. Hepatitis A can be spread by:
- Touching objects or eating food that someone with hepatitis A virus infection handled
- Having sex with someone who has hepatitis A virus infection (not limited to anal-oral contact)
- Forgetting to wash your hands after using the bathroom or changing diapers
Who is at risk for hepatitis A?
Due to the current outbreak, the San Diego County Public Health Officer strongly recommends the following groups be vaccinated with the hepatitis A vaccine:
- People who are homeless.
- Men who have sex with men.
- Users of illicit drugs.
- People with chronic liver disease, such as cirrhosis, hepatitis B or hepatitis C. They may not be at increased risk of getting hepatitis A but are at increased risk of poor outcomes if infected.
- People who work with, provide services to, or clean up after the homeless and/or illicit drug users
- Food handlers who have adult clients. Food handlers are not at increased risk, but if infected can impact large number of people. Children get routine vaccinations for hepatitis A, so vaccination is not recommended for food handlers in schools unless they are in an at-risk populations group.
* Anyone who is concerned about hepatitis A virus contact and wants to be immune. During the present outbreak, hepatitis A vaccine is not being recommended for general public.
* In addition to several of the above groups, the CDC routinely recommends vaccinations for:
- People with clotting factor disorders.
- People who conduct laboratory research with the virus.
- Travelers to countries where hepatitis A is common.
- People in close personal contact with adopted children from countries where hepatitis A is common.
What are the symptoms of hepatitis A?
Not everyone shows symptoms. If symptoms develop, they usually appear 2 to 6 weeks after infection. Symptoms can include:
- Feeling tired
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach pain
- Dark urine (pee)
- Grey stool
- Joint pain
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes
How can hepatitis A virus be prevented?
- Frequent hand washing can help prevent the spread of hepatitis A:
- Before eating or preparing food
- After using the bathroom or changing diapers
- Do not have sex with someone who has hepatitis A virus infection.
- Use your own towels, toothbrushes and eating utensils.
- Do not share food, drinks or smokes with other people.
- A vaccine can protect against hepatitis A. During the present outbreak, hepatitis A vaccine is NOT being recommended for the San Diego general public and is being recommended only for the at-risk populations.
If you have health insurance
- Contact your healthcare provider or pharmacy for a vaccination
- Or if you have health insurance and you don’t know your regular health care provider, Call your health plan. They will direct you where to receive a vaccine and assist you with finding a medical home.
If you DO NOT have health insurance
If you do not have health insurance and are interested in receiving a hepatitis A vaccine, click on the buttons below to find a community clinic or public health center near you:
Where to wash your hands
To download the list of public restrooms, please Click here.
To find more information about the hepatitis A outbreak in San Diego, Click here.
To download a fact sheet on hepatitis A, Click here.
To download the Hepatitis A Volunteers with Direct Contact with Homeless People Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), Click here.
To download the hepatitis A disinfection guidelines, Click here.
To download the hepatitis A vaccination information for food handlers, Click here.