With health officials declaring a hepatitis A outbreak in Los Angeles County last week, the cities of Burbank and Glendale have been working on protecting their homeless populations from the virus.
Both cities have started reaching out to the homeless in order to get them screened and vaccinated against hepatitis A. The L.A. County Department of Public Health has said homeless people are most at risk for the infection.
At least 10 people in the county have reported being infected with hepatitis A, according to the health agency.
While the virus hasn’t reached either city, officials from Burbank and Glendale said the outreach is being done as a precautionary measure.
“Obviously, we can’t make them [get vaccinated], but we’re reaching out and giving them the opportunity to get those services,” Simone McFarland, a spokeswoman with the city of Burbank, said.
In addition to the cities’ outreach efforts, people can also get vaccinated for hepatitis A in Glendale at a special health fair event on Oct. 13.
Ivet Samvelyan, community services manager for Glendale, said the fair will have other health services available in addition to screening and vaccinating for the virus. Some other services will include screenings for sexually transmitted diseases and diabetes as well as dental checkups.
The health fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Pacific Community Center, 501 S. Pacific Ave.
“We have to be able to provide preventive measures to hepatitis A,” Samvelyan said. “The likelihood of it spreading in the city of Glendale might be less than L.A. but we want to make sure that our clients are safe.”
Hepatitis A attacks the liver and is highly contagious, the department of public health said. It can spread by coming into contact with someone’s fecal matter through contaminated food or other objects.
The health agency people can also contract the virus if they have sexual contact with someone infected or sharing certain drug paraphernalia such as needles.
Symptoms of the virus include nausea, jaundice, loss of appetite, fatigue, vomiting and dark urine.
A mild infection can last anywhere from a few weeks to several months.
Health officials encourage people to wash their hands with soap and water before handling food and after using the restroom to help prevent hepatitis A’s spread.
An area that has been contaminated with hepatitis A can be sanitized using a bleach cleaning solution.
Outbreaks of the virus have been reported in Santa Cruz and San Diego counties, the latter of which has seen more than 400 people infected with hepatitis A, with at least 17 people dying from it.